The University of Calgary takes a number of precautions to protect students on campus. One of these measures is the emergency text messaging service used to alert students during emergencies. The system was first tested on Jan. 15.
Emergency text messaging is the primary means the university can use to alert students to danger on campus. According to Emergency Response Plan coordinator Brian Kitching, the service will only be used for extreme circumstances.
“It is our principle method for communicating for serious emergencies, not for minor problems or notifications,” said Kitching. “We will only use it to communicate in a life-threatening situation such as an armed assailant, fire in one of the buildings, a chemical leak or anything that could be a risk to life safety.”
The service is provided through a contract between the university and a private company. Approximately 6,000 students have already signed up for the service. Anyone interested can sign up online through their Student Centre.
According to Kitching, other schools have adopted similar programs.
“Emergency text messaging is a very common feature in emergency management in many universities,” said Kitching. “Experience shows that landline and cell phone conversations are adversely impacted by a lot of users since the lines get jammed when there is a large volume of outgoing and incoming calls.”
Kitching encourages all students to sign up.
“Although it is voluntary to enrol in the text messaging program, I would like to see every student signed up,” said Kitching.
In less serious emergency circumstances, students can contact Campus Security. Campus Security manager Ken Kress oversees all security operations on campus.
“I think the U of C campus is very safe. In the 17 years I’ve been with Campus Security, we have had very few serious or life-threatening incidents,” said Kress. “The issue is to keep safety and precautions fresh in students’ minds. We have to make people aware of the safety of their property as well as their personal safety when they’re on campus, and that there are many different resources available for them to utilize.”