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How to learn about campus emergencies

Feb. 18, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A shooting that left six people dead at Northern Illinois University has led Western Michigan University officials to remind the campus community of some basic things to remember in the event of any kind of emergency.

"Emergency response planning has been an important initiative at WMU for nearly a decade," says Lowell P. Rinker, vice president for business, whose area of responsibility includes public safety. "Our original planning was targeted at reacting to fires, tornados, bomb threats and the like. In the past year, however, we've moved to incorporate planning for how to respond to a Virginia Tech type of incident and the potential for a pandemic flu incident."

In every case, Rinker says, the front lines of communication for emergency information are the University's home page, www.wmich.edu, and WMU's Emergency Information Line, (269) 387-1001. At the slightest sign of unusual circumstances, students, faculty and staff can use either of those resources to access the most current information. Both tools can accommodate multiple users.

Things you can do right now.

Make www.wmich.edu the default home page in your browser.

Memorize (269) 387-1001 and program it into your cell phone.

"We also have and will use a number of other tools such as e-mail and phone trees, but the Web and emergency phone line will be the first tools we use whenever we need to communicate with our campus," Rinker notes. Other tools that can be used include building public address systems in some locations and police bullhorns in all public safety vehicles.

At NIU, a school almost identical in size to WMU, the home page alert proved effective immediately in letting the campus know of the emergency and was followed by text and e-mail messages.

Emergency planning at WMU

WMU's emergency planning is managed by Dr. Pat Holton in Environmental Safety and Emergency Management, which is part of the Department of Public Safety. The response plan is continually refined and practiced regularly by holding drills on campus and sometimes in coordination with the community's emergency responders. The plan is practiced using a range of possible campus emergencies, and all of the practices revolve around key elements.

Key elements in emergency planning and drills

  • Speed of first response to a situation
  • Immediate communication of emergency situation to campus community
  • Convening of campus and community resources to help the campus recover from an emergency.

In addition to WMU Public Safety, other teams involved in the planning represent academic affairs, Sindecuse Health Center, Physical Plant, residence life, purchasing, information technology, university relations and other areas. Details of the planning can be found online at www.obf.wmich.edu/safety.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400