More information on emergency response plans at Washington University

Mark P. Bagby, M.S. | Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

In response to your March 9 editorial (“Expand the use of WUSTLAlerts”), I would like to share with Student Life a number of programs that are already provided to our WUSTL Community. Our “Where to Go” program is shared with our faculty, staff and students soon after they arrive at Washington University. This program provides each member with a brochure, wallet card and magnet that disseminates what to do here at WUSTL when emergencies occur such as fire, medical emergency, earthquake or severe weather. We also post this information on our website and include an informative video that further discusses and demonstrates what to do for many emergencies. In addition to that, we also post this information in our buildings near major entrances and stairwells and include how to evacuate a building, where to find fire extinguishers, and where the fire alarm pull stations are to activate the fire alarm system for a building.

Throughout the year, the University staff conduct seminars and trainings, and provide supplemental information to various groups of students, faculty and staff such as: Emergency preparedness training at new student orientation; emergency preparedness training at new employee orientation; emergency preparedness overview at the law school new student orientation; emergency preparedness and fire extinguisher training for Residential Life RA/RCDs, DUC student workers and greek life house managers; articles and press releases about WUSTLAlert tests and emergency information provided to the Record, Student Life, KWUR and WUTV; and at least twice a year Residential Life provides additional information to the WUSTL Community that resides in Residential Life buildings.

WUSTL did indeed purchase 3 outdoor warning sirens that are placed on Brookings Hall, Seigle Hall and Nemerov residential house that are tied into St. Louis County’s outdoor warning siren network. That means that whenever St. Louis County activates their sirens, then ours are automatically sounded as well. We rely on these sirens as well as local news media and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to alert our campus population to severe weather that may impact us. The St. Louis County siren network covers over 507 square miles and over 900,000 residents.

One thing that our campus community needs to realize is that just because an outdoor siren is going off, it does not mean that they are necessarily in immediate danger. It is meant as a warning that severe weather is likely or has been detected in and around St. Louis County. It means go inside and seek additional information via local news sources or the NOAA to see if our immediate area will be impacted or if it is to the north or south of us. If the area that you are in is expected to be impacted, then you need to head to the lowest level possible and interior space to seek refuge until the severe weather passes. You should take a cell phone, flashlight and battery-powered radio to receive updated information or determine if the danger has passed.

As the Chancellor and other campus officials have said in the past, “An emergency can occur at any time and all of us in the WUSTL Community have a responsibility to know what to do, what the resources are, and how to access them in an emergency.”

Mark P. Bagby, M.S.
Emergency Management Coordinator

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