Safety preparation at your organization goes far beyond simply having an emergency notification system (ENS). You need to ensure that you’ve prepared your ENS for any crisis situation that might impact your organization. On top of that, each individual — whether it be your critical communications team, staff and employees, students, or visitors — must understand how and why they will be receiving alerts and what to do with the guidance they receive. Ensuring your staff and employees are confident in their knowledge and abilities is a key part of emergency preparation.
Since March, the United States has seen quite a lot of tornadoes and severe spring weather. In fact, from May 13 through May 20 there were 483 tornadoes according to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. We are accustomed to hearing about tornadic activity throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota - appropriately given the nickname of Tornado Alley. However, many of the tornadoes which occurred in May were accounted for in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. In these Northeastern areas, tornadoes have been more prevalent in the past couple of years and are only continuing to increase.
Traditionally a place of sanctuary, reflection, peace, and safety, houses of worship have seen an increase in threats and violence in recent years. High-profile attacks at churches, synagogues, and mosques show that these places of worship are not immune from violence and religious leaders and congregants are concerned. Most are increasing security and rethinking entry to ensure their religious communities feel safe and secure.
Recent reports about mold in residence halls and the spread of viruses among students are an important reminder that threats to campus safety can be biological and may trigger the Jeanne Clery Act’s emergency notification requirement just like a criminal or environmental threat would. Effective compliance with Clery in these situations requires open communication among various departments on campus – including residence life, the health center, and campus public safety – to identify potential threats and then issue notifications. This should be bolstered with both policies and good relationships.
While the ultimate goal of any critical communication system is to reach as many people through as many avenues as possible, most organizations still put emphasis on direct communication methods. Reaching your audience how they want to be contacted — by email, text message, and voice phone call — is often perceived as the most effective communication endpoints available. The biggest barrier to effective direct communication is the collection and maintenance of personal contact information.
Within the next few weeks, universities and colleges will be busy preparing for large numbers of visitors to their campuses for graduation ceremonies. From younger siblings to grandparents, these visitors will be happily awaiting to celebrate their graduate walking across the stage and receive their hard-earned diplomas and start the next chapter of their lives.