A gunman. An earthquake. A bomb threat. These are just a few of the things that will put the new emergency plan into effect should they happen.
“Columbine, Virginia Tech and a number of other school-related emergencies have made emergency notification systems a hot topic in education,” said Brian Schmidt, director of Information Systems. “We’ve been researching options for over two years now.”
The emergency plan is designed to make sure that people on campus who might be in harm’s way are informed of the danger by means of cell phone, phone call or text, or e-mail.
If all goes according to plan, a new siren system will start the notification process. “If the siren goes off,” Schmidt explained, “people need to turn on their cell phones, check their e-mail or wait for a phone call.”
The messages will be handled and delivered by a company called Blackboard Connect. At the beginning of the school year, all students and Corban personnel should have entered emergency information via the Blackboard Connect web site that will be used exclusively for this purpose.
So why the need for a security system now?
“We want to do all we can to keep our Corban family safe,” Schmidt said.“Being able to provide emergency information in a timely manner is one simple way to get good information into the hands of people who can make sensible decisions about what to do or not do in certain circumstances. The school shootings, tornado events and hurricanes of recent years have increased everyone’s awareness of just how useful these systems can be.”
“I think it’s a good plan for safety issues, especially with what’s happened at other schools,” junior Jessica Robinson said. “It’s good to know that the school is doing everything they can to keep everybody safe at all times.”
The emergency notification system, called CorbanAlert, works this way, for example: a shooter comes on campus; a siren located at the top of the academic building goes off, which in turn alerts people to check their phones or e-mail where further information will be provided.
The evacuation process is simple. Clear instructions will be given on whether everyone should evacuate or stay put. In the event of an evacuation, 18 emergency locations have been set up, each with its own evacuation site.
If the instruction is to stay put, students who are outside of classrooms should return to their dorm rooms, close their doors, windows and shades, and wait until notified by the authorities.
“You shouldn’t take any action, unless you are in imminent danger, until you receive the emergency notification,” Schmidt said.
According to Schmidt, a test of the system will be announced in the next few weeks.
The CorbanAlert system is not meant to frighten students, but simply to make sure everyone is prepared should anything happen.
“I remember the Virginia Tech shootings and they only got e-mails telling them to stay in their rooms,” said Robinson.
“I think a lot of people were wondering why they didn’t have a better system. It’s good to have more means of communication. It’s always better to be prepared than sorry.”