Reinhardt Launches New Emergency Communication System, EagleAlert
On March 24, 2008, Reinhardt College launched an emergency alert system, EagleAlert, which sends text and e-mail notifications to students, faculty, staff and parents.
Preparing for Emergency Situations
"We anticipate using the system to quickly issue severe weather advisories and school closings, as well as in times of campus-wide emergency situations," said Dr. Roger R. Lee, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. "This year we have held a series of meetings involving representatives from across the campus and our local public safety community to examine and document policies and procedures regarding emergency preparedness. The result of these discussions will be a comprehensive emergency plan spelling out how Reinhardt will prepare for, respond to, and recover from various emergencies."
"Communications is the most important aspect of any emergency response," explained Robby Westbrook,director of the Cherokee Sheriff's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management."EagleAlert will allow the administration of Reinhardt College to provide rapid and accurate life saving communications to its students, faculty and staff. The College is to be commended for its proactive approach to emergency and disaster preparedness."
Receiving Time-Sensitive Alerts and Updates
EagleAlert is an opt-in instant, mass notification system powered by Omnilert Network e2campus. Through EagleAlert, students, parents, faculty and staff who have registered with the system will receive time-sensitive alerts and updates via cell phones, personal data assistants (PDAs), and e-mail. Many colleges and universities across the U.S. have adopted similar messaging systems in the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.
"In an emergency, receiving timely and accurate information is critical to ensure one's safety," explained Walter May, assistant dean of students and director of student activities. "This new notification method is an integral part of the College's emergency procedures, but students, faculty and staff have to sign up. Due to the costs and privacy issues regarding text messaging, cell phones and e-mail addressees, we felt we had to make the system voluntary. EagleAlert will only be effective if members of the campus community take a few minutes and register."
Informing the Reinhardt Community
Reinhardt students, faculty, staff and parents have received postcards explaining EagleAlert and instructing them to register. A new section of the College website was developed addressing emergency preparedness, and e-mails and Facebook messages have been sent. The first system-wide test on April 1 was successful.
"We have had a good response thus far, and we will be continuing our efforts to get people to register," said Marsha White, Reinhardt's executive director of marketing and communications. "We will be posting flyers and notices on campus, adding an emergency preparedness session to new student and employee orientation, and sending periodic reminders via e-mail, campus mail and Facebook distribution lists. This isn't a message you can send out once and consider it done. Instead, it will be an ongoing process."