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ETSU tests emergency alert system, stays ready for crisis

By Kyle Benjamin, kbenjamin@wcyb.com
Published On: Feb 06 2014 04:52:29 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 06 2014 08:20:02 PM CST

East Tennessee State continues to work on emergency procedures and tests the campus-wide alert system.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

East Tennessee State University is well-equipped to handle an emergency. The school has a 'very complex' system that utilizes email, text messaging, social media and the internet to blanket the campus community with information in a crisis.

"We try to reach people through as many avenues as possible when we do have to implement that system," said Smith.

Smith says each situation is carefully, but quickly, evaluated. Those in charge work to answer a simple question: is anyone in danger? "If you had an active shooter, yes, there's no question there," said Smith. "When there's been a tornado warning in Washington County or even some of the closer counties, again, you just go to that question -- 'Is there an immediate threat to campus?' If there is any question there could be, you go ahead and go for it."

All of these efforts are geared towards making sure students are safe, stay safe and feel safe. ETSU even has a full-time police force.

All these efforts help students like graduate student Patrick Cash feel safe on campus. He said his studies often have him on campus until 3 a.m., and he's never had any worry about his safety.

However, Cash said he's not sure how he would react if there was a shooting. "Honestly, I don't think that's a question you can answer until you're put in that situation," he said. "So until you actually see that happen, depending on what's going on in front of you, I don't think you can safely answer that. You can say you would try to do something now, but it might come and I might hide under a desk," he said.

Smith says ETSU's system worked as planned, but the school is continuously evaluating the procedures.

The university has used parts of the alert system in recent weeks to warn the campus community about inclement weather.