DukeALERT emergency notification system to be tested Oct. 21

October 12, 2009Duke will conduct a test of the DukeALERT mass notification system, which includes its outdoor warning sirens, on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

The event is a periodic, functional test of the system, said Aaron Graves, associate vice president for campus safety and security. While not a drill, it’s meant to raise awareness among students, faculty and staff about how they would be notified in the event of a life-threatening emergency like a tornado sighting or an active shooter on campus.

“We hope we never need to activate the system for an emergency, but if we do, we’ll have the tools in place to best respond and immediately notify our community,” Graves said.

The test will begin at about 10 a.m. when nine outdoor warning sirens across campus wail; a recorded message will follow. About the same time, an announcement will be posted on Duke’s emergency website.

Soon after, community members will receive a DukeALERT e-mail, and if they registered for Duke’s text messaging service, they’ll get a text message. Duke’s information line 684-INFO will also provide a recorded message. Duke students, faculty and staff who want to register for the text messaging service may do so here.

Graves reminded community members that the outdoor warning sirens are designed to address one audience only: people outdoors, so they can take immediate action in the event of a life-threatening emergency.

“People inside most buildings may not hear the outdoor sirens, but we can reach them in other ways through e-mail, text messages, the emergency website and telephone information line,” Graves said.

Since the event is a functional test of the system, Duke community members do not need to take a specific action like seeking shelter or evacuating.

The only action Duke community members are encouraged to take is to complete an online survey to assess the effectiveness of the communication methods. The survey will be posted on the DukeALERT website when the test begins. The results will help determine how people were notified and what methods worked best, while helping identify areas for improvement.