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INSIDE BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY

Emergency response methods enhanced

Summer orientation this year includes a panel session dedicated to safety issues featuring representatives from University Police, the Counseling Center and Residential Life. The sessions provide ample opportunity for answers to questions and cover a range of issues from helping students in crisis to emergency response training to how many fire drills are held on campus.

Communicating quickly to the campus is a top priority in emergency situations, said Dave Hubeny, coordinator of special services. Hubeny, who is charged with coordinating all campus emergency operations, said there are a number of plans in place for emergency communications that are being enhanced with additional technologies.

“In a critical situation, we’re going to use a text-messaging service to any electronic device. This service can deliver roughly 18,000 messages per minute to get information out to people to tell them how to be safe,” he said. The system will be online by the fall semester and students are encouraged to register their contact information during orientation to receive messages. The Office of Telecommunications will also have a Web site online by the fall semester, where students, faculty, staff and parents can register their contact information.

“We’re hoping to include a parents group for text messaging in the future. In the meantime, the University’s Web site will always be updated and the University has reserved, toll-free phone lines that will be available for questions and updates during emergencies,” Hubeny said.

Another new feature that will be in place by the fall will affect anyone accessing the Web from a University server when an emergency arises, Hubeny said. They will be automatically redirected to a page notifying them of the emergency and telling them how to access additional, up-to-date information.

The University is also installing outdoor warning sirens and enhancing its electronic message boards, Hubeny said. As new notification methods come online, the campus community will be educated about what its response should be if, for example, the warning siren goes off.

The University will continue to use current methods to inform and update the campus during emergencies, including Dateline for faculty and staff and B-Line for students, recorded phone messages, the Web site and external media. “Our goal is to get the message out simultaneously through as many media as possible,” Hubeny said.

The University is also enhancing its plans by designating areas within buildings to serve as mustering places. These areas will serve as gathering places where people can obtain information in emergency situations, Hubeny said. He added that all departments have been contacted and asked to develop site-specific plans for emergency situations as well. Hubeny can provide assistance to departments working on a plan; contact him at dhubeny@binghamton.edu.

Finally, building administrators assigned to each campus building will use two-way radios on the University’s frequency when phone lines are not operational, as well as a supply of non-toxic glow lights for use in a power failure.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08