Early-morning tremor gives wake-up call

Plans already were in place for improved emergency communication

Last week’s 5.2 magnitude earthquake in Southern Illinois and its continuing minor aftershocks have had a rattling effect on students, faculty and staff and were yet another reminder of the importance of emergency preparedness and communication.

A WUText Alert was not sent to those registered for the text messaging notifications as this earthquake did not result in a significant disruption to the University community.

Over the past year, several University-wide committees have been meeting to implement and improve preparedness and communications strategies for the entire University community. Although these plans are not yet complete, several key programs have been put into place, and more will be announced in the coming months as part of an overall emergency communications program called “Where to Go.”

In the event of an emergency, including situations related to natural disasters, health epidemics, fire, hazardous materials, severe weather or violence, the University has developed an emergency Web site: emergency.wustl.edu.

In addition to updates on a current emergency situation, the site includes key contact information and information on how to prepare for many kinds of emergency situations. The site is always available and, when there is no emergency, contains a message that reads:

“Currently, there is no emergency at Washington University. In the event of an emergency, this site will be regularly updated to provide information to the University community. Students, faculty and staff all need to know where to go and what to do during an emergency. Before an emergency occurs, take some time to become familiar with the ways to respond to potential emergencies by visiting the links above.”

As a reminder, the University also has established “WUText,” a service that provides emergency alerts to cell phones as well as to laptop and desktop computers.

Although this system has been preloaded with the e-mail addresses of all faculty, staff and students, individuals must register if they wish to receive the alerts on their cell phones.

For more information, to register for the service or to update information, go to the link on the emergency.wustl.edu page.

“I hope the community will take this earthquake as a reminder to be prepared for all types of emergencies,” said Mark Bagby, University disaster coordinator.

For more information on emergency procedures, visit emergency.wustl.edu or call Bagby at 935-9261.