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Emergency siren to be tested May 30

by Karen A. Grava - May 29, 2007

The University’s long-dormant Storrs emergency siren will be tested on Wednesday, May 30, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Originally installed in case of air raids, the siren has not been used for many years.

But concerns about warning students in emergencies, in the wake of recent shootings at Virginia Tech, have caused University officials to reactivate the siren.

The siren will be tested first at 11 a.m., to determine whether it can be heard throughout the Storrs campus.

If it does not perform adequately, technicians will check equipment, power, or telephone connections and retest it throughout the afternoon until 3 p.m.

The siren is not the only emergency communication the University is considering.

A committee, headed by Michael Kerntke, associate vice president and chief information officer, has been appointed to devise additional ways to allow the University to warn faculty, staff, and students of life-threatening emergencies.

“We would like to be sure that we’re as prepared as possible for emergencies that could be life-threatening to our students, faculty and staff,” says Barry Feldman, vice president and chief operating officer.

“There are many lessons to be learned from the situation at Virginia Tech. It’s important for us to take the time this summer to get as many emergency systems up and running as we can.”

The committee is looking into various technologies, including using the blue phones to broadcast messages; installing message boards; developing text messaging systems that would leave messages on cell phones; and using screens in high-tech classrooms and elsewhere to communicate.

The committee is also considering communications strategies for the regional campuses, and the Schools of Law and Social Work.

The committee will meet throughout the summer, with the goal of having emergency communication systems operational this fall.

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