OU Utilizes Mobile Alerts To Warn Of Emergencies

Wednesday, January 22nd 2014, 6:48 pm
By: News On 6

Students, faculty and staff at OU quickly learned about the shots fired scare through the university's emergency communications system.

The university uses cell phones to its advantage and can send out thousands of emails, texts messages, or phone calls when an emergency strikes.

When the sound of gunshots was reported on the OU campus in Norman, the university put its emergency response plan in action.

1/22/2014 Related Story: OU President: No Evidence Of Shooting On Norman Campus

A major part of that plan was letting everyone know what was happening, that meant this message was sent to students, faculty, and staff:

"Shooting on campus. Avoid Gould Hall. Seek immediate shelter in place."

"Well, we call it part of our emergency communications system," said Tracy Kennedy with OU-Tulsa.

The system used in Norman is the same used on campus in Tulsa. The university sends out text messages, emails, phone calls, and posts on social media if there's an emergency.

"Here at OU-Tulsa there have been a couple of cases of bomb threats that turned out to be false alarms as well, we've used it for that," Kennedy said. "We've used it for snow closures during extreme weather conditions during the ice storm."

One of the more recent examples happened in early December after a man lead police on a high speed chase and killed himself on Yale Avenue, right in front of the OU-Tulsa campus.

"I was actually right in the library when I received the text so it helped me avoid the traffic and get out so I could go home easier," said student Kenny Smith.

Smith likes the emergency system and said it works very well.

"It's a good investment. If anything were to really happen, like a serious shooting or anything like that, I think it would be the quickest and easiest way to let everybody know to stay out of harm's way," Smith said.

School officials say it's important to use the system at the right time so as not to overload students or staff.

"Our goal is to be safe and to err on the side of caution if needed and the University does, I think, a good job of that of notifying our students," Kennedy said. "Our students understand and our faculty and staff and even our patients at the OU Physician's Clinic, we all take that very seriously.

Kennedy said it's important for everyone to keep their information up to date, so if you have changed phone numbers or have a new email you need to go to the OU web page and update your information.