The University of Texas at Tyler has installed an outdoor warning system designed to alert the campus of threats and emergencies, University officials have announced.
The system, which was installed in November and will be tested for the first time late this week, consists of strategically placed speakers and sirens that warn the university community to take shelter in the event of an emergency, such as a severe weather event or law enforcement situation, that poses a direct threat to the university community.
"We are installing this system to serve as another component in UT Tyler's multi-layered approach to notifying our campus of emergencies and ensuring the safety of our students, faculty, staff and guests," said Dr. Howard Patterson, Vice President for Student Affairs, "Along with our text messaging, e-mail and voicemail notifications, and other methods, the outdoor warning system will be an important part of our efforts to reach the campus when there is a threat."
The speakers and sirens are designed to be heard outdoors only and are not intended to be heard by persons within the buildings on campus. The University employs other methods to notify persons inside campus buildings.
"In the event of an emergency which urgently threatens the safety of persons outdoors, the university will sound the sirens. The alert tones are very loud and distinct and should be easily heard by anyone who is outdoors on the campus," said University Police Chief Mike Medders, "The alert tones may be followed by simple voice instructions. Regardless of whether or not you can comprehend the voice instructions, the default actions anytime the siren is sounded are: stop what you are doing, observe your surroundings and seek shelter and further information. In other words, whenever the outdoor warning system sounds, it is no longer safe to be outside and everyone on campus needs to seek shelter."
According to guidelines established for the system, the sirens will sound only when the campus is at immediate risk. This means the sirens may or may not sound when the City of Tyler's outdoor warning system is sounded. The only time it is safe to be outside when the sirens sound is during a monthly system test.
System tests will last less than five minutes, and are scheduled to take place on the first Friday of every month at about 2:30 p.m. No action is expected during the monthly test. To avoid confusion, monthly tests will be canceled whenever there is a chance of severe weather on the scheduled test day. The only exception to this testing schedule is this week when contractors will be performing the initial system optimization. The system may sound on Thursday and Friday of this week, but the initial voice messages will clearly indicate the system is being tested. Medders notes that, although the sirens will be loudest within the limits of campus, neighboring businesses and residents may be able to hear the warning system.