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Binghamton University Emergency Alert System Policies and Procedures

1. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to define use of Binghamton University Emergency Alert System. This system has ten alert components. These components are intended to improve emergency communications between the University’s Administration and Binghamton University students, staff, faculty and visitors. This document will establish the protocols that are to be taken in case of an emergency in order to promote the safety of everyone on campus. The Emergency Alert System includes:

  • Text / electronic messaging
  • Outdoor siren(s)
  • BU Alert line (777-7700)
  • Electronic LED message boards
  • Campus voice mail
  • University web page
  • University e-mail listserves (i.e. B-Line and Dateline )
  • Campus & local television and radio
  • Mobile public address systems (vehicle mounted)

2. Agencies and Responsibilities

  • DECISION TO ACTIVATE: The emergency management program, housed within the NYS University Police Department ("NYSUP”) shall have primary responsibility for making the decision to activate the Emergency Alert System. It shall also have primary responsibility and control of the alert siren. It will also be the responsibility of the emergency management program to conduct drills at different times of day and different days of the week including weekends (see section 5.1 below). As necessary, after review of the drills, the emergency management program shall hold quality improvement meetings with appropriate campus departments and agencies. In addition to the emergency management program, the system may be activated by the NYSUP Chief of Police, or designee, or a member of the University Senior Officer's Group (SOG).
  • MESSAGE SYSTEM ACTIVATION: Communications and Marketing — Communications and Marketing shall activate the Emergency Alert System when requested by emergency management or the NYSUP administration. Communications & Marketing shall maintain appropriate predetermined messages which should be customized and distributed rapidly.
  • SIREN MAINTENANCE AND BACKUP ACTIVATION: Physical Facilities — Physical Facilities shall be responsible for the maintenance of the outdoor siren. Although University Police shall have primary control of the activation of the siren, physical Facilities shall maintain the ability to activate the sirens locally in the event NYSUP is unable to initiate the warning signal.
  • BACKUP TEXT MESSAGING: Pre-Determined Staff Members — Select staff members shall have the ability to initiate emergency text messages in case Communications & Marketing, emergency management, or NYSUP is not able to activate devices.

3. Acceptable Use of the Emergency Alert System

The Binghamton University Emergency Alert System shall only be initiated within the acceptable use criteria listed below.

Warnings and instructions related to emergency conditions:

  • Bomb Threat – There is intelligence to indicate the threat is credible (e.g. potential device has been located).
  • Civil Disturbance – A demonstration by a large group that is disrupting normal activities and/or showing signs of aggressive behavior.
  • Fire – Any fire that is potentially placing lives in danger.
  • Hazardous Material Release – A dangerous material (i.e. chemical, biological, or radiological) that is spreading from a contained area and/or causing lives to be placed in danger.
  • Major Road Closing – An unanticipated closure that could disrupt safe passage to and from campus.
  • Medical Emergency – Confirmed contagious disease constituting a campus wide threat (i.e. pandemic)
  • Physical Assault – Weapons used, significant violence, perpetrator(s) at large (e.g. active shooter; hostage situation)
  • Suspicious Package – A package that is believed to have the potential to cause injury to a wide spectrum of lives or property.
  • Utility Failure – A major disruption of utilities and or possible damage (i.e. gas, electrical, water, etc.)
  • Severe Weather – Any severe weather that has the potential to cause injury to lives or property (i.e. flooding, thunderstorm, wind, tornado, snow/ice/cold, etc.)
  • Missing Person – If activation of the system has the potential to assist in locating the missing person. Alert for this type of incident shall be limited to the communication devices most appropriate for disseminating information. The outdoor siren should not be used for missing persons.
  • Other, Life Threatening – Any other condition where lives are in immediate danger and the Emergency Alert System has the potential to reduce the potential of harm.
  • “All Clear” and/or additional follow-up messages pertaining to end-of-event. For example: When an alert has been issued due to a potentially severe storm in the area, an “All Clear” message could be sent when the danger has passed.
  • General notifications of a non-emergency nature shall NOT be permitted via the Emergency Alert System. The use of the system shall be limited to emergency events only.

4. Activation of the Emergency Alert System

In order to activate the Emergency Alert System the following procedures shall take place:

  • When a potentially dangerous situation is identified by any member of the campus community, University Police must be immediately notified by calling 911 (from a campus phone) or 777-2222.
  • Upon receiving notification of an alleged, potentially dangerous situation requiring the use of the Emergency Alert System, NYSUP, in addition to following standard dispatch policies, shall immediately notify a chief officer (i.e. Chief, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chief) and/or the Director of Emergency Management.
  • The Chief and/or the Director of Emergency Management shall be informed of the situation and the possible need to activate the Emergency Alert System.
  • All NYSUP chief officers shall be authorized to initiate the Emergency Alert System
  • The NYSUP chief officer or Director of Emergency Management may seek input from any necessary source to gather information in order to help make the decision to activate the system. Likely sources of information include, but are not limited to, Binghamton University senior administration, Physical Facilities, Environmental Health & Safety, Broome County Office of Emergency Services (OES), etc.
  • Upon determining the need to activate the Emergency Alert System, the Director of Emergency Management and/or NYSUP chief officer shall contact the director, or designee, of Communications and Marketing. Communications and Marketing shall distribute the emergency message through all appropriate methods.
    • If necessary, the Director of Emergency Management or NYSUP Chief may choose to immediately distribute the notification rather than contact Communications and Marketing.  This decision shall be based upon the nature of the incident, the potential threat for serious harm, and the need to quickly communicate the message to the campus community.
  • During normal working hours, Communications and Marketing will immediately send a representative to the University Police Department. The content of the message shall be finalized by a face-to-face meeting between a Director of Emergency Management, NYSUP Chief Officer and the Communications and Marketing representative.
  • After normal working hours, Communications and Marketing shall not delay the message and may activate the appropriate systems remotely from home, and/or via a mobile device. A representative of Communications and Marketing should report to NYSUP as soon as possible.
  • In the event that Communications & Marketing is not able to initiate the Emergency Alert System in a timely manner, appropriate communication of this shall be made to the Director of Emergency Management, NYSUP chief officer and the devices may be activated by the Director of Emergency Management, Chief of Police or his designee from the office, from home, or via a mobile device.
  • When practical and reasonable, all Emergency Alert System devices shall be activated together or within minutes of each other.
  • Outdoor Siren – The outdoor siren should only be used when it is necessary for individuals to seek shelter inside a building (shelter-in-place). The siren directs people to take immediate shelter inside the nearest building and, depending on the nature of the emergency, this action may not be appropriate. The BU campus should be educated to shelter-in-place and seek additional information when the outdoor siren is heard.

5. Drills

  • Drills shall be conducted as often as emergency management finds appropriate in order to ensure that the system is effective and operational. The drills shall serve as a functional test of the systems, as well as an educational tool for the Binghamton University community. There would be two types of tests, an administrative test and a functional test which could be done together.
  • Administrative test — will test how much time it takes to get emergency information from the dispatcher or senior ranking police officer to emergency management or the NYSUP administration (i.e. Chief Officers) and from them, to Communications & Marketing, and to other agencies such as physical facilities and telecommunications.
  • Functional test — will test the Emergency Alert System by broadcasting to students, staff, and faculty a non-emergency message informing them of the test and providing information regarding what to do if this had been an actual emergency.
  • Following the administrative and functional test the Director of Emergency Management would meet with representatives of Communications & Marketing, Physical Facilities, and Telecommunications to discuss quality improvement of the Emergency Alert System and procedures.

6. Registration

  • The only emergency communication component that requires registration is the text / electronic messaging of mobile devices. The emergency management program as well as the BU Brain shall maintain a section in their website where students, staff, and faculty may register their mobile devices.
  • Communications and Marketing shall place a link to the registration page on the Binghamton University’s internet home page. Placing the registration link on the Binghamton University’s internet home page will increase awareness of the service and facilitate the registration process.
  • Incoming freshmen and transfer students may be offered the opportunity to register during their orientation sessions.

7. Education

  • New students may be educated about the Emergency Alert System during freshmen or transfer orientation. A representative from emergency management and/or from Communications and Marketing may present information regarding the Emergency Alert System program and explain the importance of this system to the new incoming students and their families.
  • In order to educate the existing students, faculty, and staff Communications and Marketing shall use all appropriate methods to communication with the campus community. Possible methods include the university website, Inside BU, Dateline, B-Line, PipeDream , etc.
  • When drills are conducted, messages describing the Emergency Alert System and steps to take if it were a real emergency should be used.

Last Updated: 1/23/18