This week, a new emergency alert system capable of
delivering messages to students’ email and cell phones, as well as residence
hall paging systems, university computers and webpages has been introduced.
“Pointer Alerts is a communication system that allows
UWSP to communicate with a large group of people—thousands of people—in a very
short period of time. When there’s an emergency situation that is an immediate
threat, this is a system to alert you,” Executive Director of University
Relations and Communications Kate Worster said. “You’ll get a very brief
message, and the idea is that when you get one of these messages, pay attention
and do whatever it tells you to do.”
This new emergency alert system is designed to reach as
many members of the university community as possible in the shortest amount of
time possible. The goal of the updated system is to effectively provide
information about emergency situations requiring immediate action.
Though current emergency procedures are up to date,
Worster explained that Pointer Alerts is both a necessary and inevitable change
due to its unparalleled efficiency.
“Prior to having this system, this was all done as
individual steps, so you can imagine how we’ve been able to reduce the amount
of time it takes us to communicate. But, then again, when you’re in a real
emergency situation, seconds can make a difference,” Worster said.
According to Director of Safety and Loss Control Jeff
Karcher, the alert system is currently in the latter stages of testing and
could be employed before the end of this academic year.
“We are currently testing internally, and we have been
for the last few weeks,” Karcher said. “This system has been utilized by other
UW campuses throughout the system, so there’s a little bit of testing out there
that we’ve evaluated.”
Karcher also said the first full-scale test of Pointer
Alerts will take place in sequence with the National Weather Service’s tornado
drill on Friday, April 19 at 1:45 p.m. If this drill proves successful, it is
likely that the alert system will be implemented as early as the following
Thursday, April 23.
To ensure the individual safety of the entire campus,
Worster emphasized the importance of regularly updating and maintaining the
personal contact information found on all UWSP accounts.
“The most important thing that we need everyone to know
right now is that we need you to make sure your cell phone information is
correct and make sure we have an accurate person to contact in case of an
emergency,” Worster said. “In the event of a real emergency, we want things to
go as smoothly as they possibly can.”