Emergency Alert Notifications: Emergency Preparation

The Five Most Important Steps

Like many other colleges and universities across the nation, West Chester University has been reviewing its safety policies and procedures and developing new initiatives to address the issues raised by recent tragedies.

Although no university is completely safe, West Chester University has taken positive steps to enhance the safety of students, employees, and visitors. With the cooperation and support of the campus community, we can only continue to improve. Five of the most important steps that students and employees can take are:

  1. Activate and maintain regular access to your University-provided electronic mail accounts.
    • In an emergency, WCU will quickly alert students, faculty and staff of emergency conditions by sending an email to your official WCU-assigned address.
  2. Subscribe to text messaging service (WCU ALERT).
    • The University has a wide variety of methods to communicate with members of the campus. Text messaging has become a key method to reach people immediately. The text messaging service allows the University to reach students, faculty, and staff in the event of an emergency.
  3. Know who to contact in an emergency!
    • Individuals witnessing or involved with an emergency situation at West Chester University should notify the Department of Public Safety by dialing 3311 from any campus phone or 610-436-3311. Program the campus emergency phone number 610-436-3311 into personal cell phones and prominently post this number in conspicuous places within your office, classroom setting, and course syllabi.
  4. Report all emergencies and suspicious activities.
    • It is the responsibility of faculty, staff, and students to immediately report any situation that could possibly result in harm to anyone at the University. If you become aware of a troubling person or situation that is causing serious anxiety, stress, or fear, this information should be reported immediately to the Director of Public Safety.
    • In cases where a person may pose an immediate risk of violence to self or others, the Department of Public Safety should be contacted at 610-436-3311 or extension 3311 on campus phones.
  5. Learn your responsibilities during an emergency.
    • In light of the recent tragedies across the nation, it is important that you understand how the University will proceed and respond in the case of an emergency on campus. In addition to the day-to-day coverage by WCU’ s Public Safety team, we have an Emergency Operations Plan in place that includes procedures to ensure a rapid response to an unanticipated emergency or threatening situation. If a situation arises on or around campus that could potentially threaten the health or safety of University community members, senior administrative officials and members of Public Safety are immediately summoned as part of WCU’s crisis response procedure. This group determines the appropriate actions to be taken, using WCU’s Emergency Operations Plan as its basis and guideline.
    • During a crisis or major emergency, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to follow the instructions provided by the WCU Emergency Alert systems.
    • Another important tool is the preparation you take now to learn, be aware of, and practice your own personal emergency plan. Learning where to find information, as well as becoming aware of building evacuation procedures for not only those buildings where you live or work, but for those that you visit during the course of your day is vital.

How are emergency alerts different from the Timely Warnings issued by Public Safety?

Timely Warnings are issued by the Department of Public Safety to provide notification to the campus (students, faculty, and staff) of any criminal activity it is aware of that may present a continuing threat. This notification includes any incident that poses a serious threat to the campus community reported to the University, whether the incident occurred on campus or at an off-campus location. Information contained in the Timely Warning will appear on the Public Safety webpage as well.

Timely Warnings are publicized via mass emails to faculty, staff, and students via the WCU-assigned email accounts. In addition, all Building Administrators post paper copies of the Timely Warnings in their buildings. All active Timely Warnings are maintained electronically on the Department of Public Safety website.

Based on circumstances, Timely Warnings may be upgraded to major emergency status.

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