Emergency notification system to be tested July 21

July 12, 2010 By Leanora MinaiAs part of its emergency preparedness plans, Duke will test the DukeALERT mass notification system on Wednesday, July 21.

Beginning at 10 a.m., outdoor warning sirens will wail, and the emergency DukeALERT website will be activated. Minutes later, faculty, staff and students will receive a test e-mail, and, if they registered for Duke’s text messaging service, they’ll get a text message on their mobile device.

Since this is a functional test of the system, Duke community members do not need to seek shelter or evacuate. Instead, they should take time to understand how they would be notified in the event of a life-threatening emergency like a tornado sighting or active shooter on campus, said John Dailey, chief of Duke Police.

“In the middle of a real emergency is not the time to figure out what website you’re supposed to go to,” Dailey said. “This is an opportunity to check the equipment and process, and we urge the community to practice going to the DukeALERT website and to be aware of the other ways they’ll be notified. We want everyone to be prepared in the event of an actual emergency.”

Around the time sirens sound for the test, an announcement will be posted on Duke’s emergency website (emergency.duke.edu). Soon after, community members will receive the e-mail and text message. Duke’s information line (919) 684-INFO will also provide a recorded message.

Dailey reminded community members that the warning sirens are designed to address one audience only: people outdoors, so they can take immediate action in the event of a life-threatening emergency.

“People inside most buildings may not hear the outdoor sirens,” Dailey said. “E-mail works for people at their desks, and the outdoor warning system is for folks outdoors. Text messages are just another tool to get an instant message to people.”

He encouraged students and employees to register now for Duke’s text messaging service.

Duke community members will be asked to complete an online survey to assess the effectiveness of the communication methods. The survey will be posted on the DukeALERT website when the test begins. The results will help determine how people were notified and what methods worked best, while helping identify areas for improvement.