SAFE System to be tested on April 11

SAFE System to be tested on April 11

by Emili Johnson and Allison UllmannStaff Writers

On April 11, the Simpson Alert for Emergencies system will be tested for the first time on campus.

The SAFE system, developed by the NTI Group, Inc., will give administrators and security the ability to send up-to-date information to students, faculty and staff through text messages on cell phones. It is a safety precaution that has been taken at various institutions in light of recent school shootings and is now being implemented at Simpson.

The system, which has already been tested and used at other Iowa colleges such as Drake University, will include up-to-date emergencies as they happen in the event of a crisis.

Jim Thorius, vice president of student development, has strong feelings about the system and feels that it will indeed protect students if a hostile situation were to come about on campus.

“Certainly, I am saddened by the fact that [school shootings] occur,” Thorius said. “But it’s a reality of the world that we live in right now that we have to take into account all the way back to Columbine and other school shootings that have occurred in the past.”

Before the test occurs, students will have an opportunity to update their contact information through StormFront with at least two phone numbers, one of which should be a cell phone and an additional e-mail address. Through this contact information, students will receive emails and text messages as events occur in a hostile situation or severe weather.

“There has been a wake-up call for awhile that has asked what how we deal with these issues and how do we protect our campus and communities which is our obligation here at Simpson.” Thorius said.

Director of Security Chris Frerichs says his staff has a specific emergency response plan they must follow if a situation were to occur.

“[In] a hostile situation, we notify the Indianola Police Department,” Frerichs said. “Once they arrive on campus, we will follow their lead in regards to how we handle the situation.”

Frerichs and Thorius also feel it is important for students to use all avenues of communication that are provided to them by the school, which include campus e-mail accounts and land line phones. This way, students, faculty and staff members can receive important information through more than just one medium.

“Safety is kind of relative and you have to take a proactive role in your own safety and we really want students to sign up for this service,” Frerichs said. “They need to understand that we are only going to use it for beneficial means for them and get them the information.”

Liske feels the system is greatly needed at Simpson and heavily encourages all students to take the time to fill out their current information on StormFront.

“I think the new alert system is a good thing and anymore a necessary thing following the events of Virginia Tech and other incidents,” Liske said. “I think you will be hard pressed to find a campus around the country that does not have one or in the process of implementing a system like this.”

Liske hopes that this system will never be used, but understands that it is a necessity on every college campus. He also feels that administration has taken specific precautions needed in order to get the system installed as soon as possible.

“There is no technological device that could prevent an incident like Virginia Tech but there are devices that will inform students, faculty, and staff sooner so the individuals can then take the necessary actions,” Liske said.

Thorius has mentioned that at this time, communication is key and an important aspect in keeping the community safe is the administratons’ obligation to keep students, faculty and staff safe at all times. Thorius also urges everyone to update their information for the system to work successfully.

“Our ability to communicate in an emergency situation is only going to be as good as the database that we have and it’s very important that students, faculty and staff make sure that that information is there,” Thorius said. “I would encourage all of our community to understand that they do have a Simpson e-mail account and they do have a Simpson phone number…use them!”