Plattsburgh State has installed outdoor warning sirens in three strategic locations on campus that are designed to alert the community when there is an imminent threat to safety on or around campus. Such events may include and are not limited to, an active shooter, a severe weather emergency or a hazardous material incident.
These newly installed sirens supplement PSUC’s Emergency Notification System (ENS). Michael Caraballo, who is the emergency management director on campus, has been in touch with colleagues at other SUNY campuses to help him with the process of setting forth an emergency alert siren system.
“Every SUNY campus is required to have an emergency notification system,” Caraballo said. “We have our passive (webpage) and direct (email/text) alerts, but we were always lacking an active broadcast system. We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. We wanted to see what was working for other schools.”
These sirens have been installed outside of Hudson Hall, DeFredenburgh Hall and the Field House. If the alarm is heard, the campus community should take three main precautions, which was outlined in the email sent to the entire PSUC campus community by Caraballo.
“Stop what you are doing, Observe your immediate surroundings for danger and Shelter/Seek out information (S.O.S.),” the email read, which is the protocol if the alarm is sounding.
“It’s a supplement to what we have, and there will definitely be a learning curve,” Caraballo said. “Stony Brook has a system similar to ours, so we decided to adopt along the lines of what they’ve implanted.”
This tactic is an easy way for students to respond if this alert system were to sound. The Stop, Observe and Shelter slogan will help students remember the necessary steps to take in order to be the safest in case of an emergency.
“One of the things we wanted to make sure is that we have procedures similar to what other schools were doing,” Caraballo said.
Caraballo realizes that this new system may raise some questions from the surrounding community in how they should respond and if their safety is included in this alert system as well.
“It is new, and as we go through the educational process, people will learn what it all means,” Caraballo said.
Chief of Staff, Keith Tyo, has said that PSUC has always been trying to find the best way to notify its campus community when they are out and about in regards to an emergency or act of violence nearby.
“We’re really pleased to see something put in place,” Tyo said. “Hopefully, it is something we won’t have to use, but is something that is there and is necessary in today’s world.”
There has been no specific recent event that triggered PSUC to install this new alert system; however, one can never be too safe this day in age. Also, it is mandated under SUNY’s emergency response requirements, Policy 5606, to have a notification system that is broken into three parts: passive, individual, and active broadcast. Now, PSUC is equipped with all three forms of emergency response mediums.
“The main purpose is that it will let people know something is happening on campus, and to avoid certain locations,” Tyo said. “If something is happening, people need to take note. Whether it’s through text, email or voicemail, you will be alerted.”
The new active alarm system will serve a purpose when called upon, but until then, there will still be testing periodically on the newly installed devices, in order to ensure its effectiveness.
A recording of the noise was also provided in the campus-wide email sent out by Caraballo Tuesday, to give everyone an idea of what to expect in case these sirens were to be put to use.
“To be observant of that sound is to know that something is happening,” Tyo said. “Now, we can concentrate on getting one message out over three different platforms.”
Email Ezra Kachaturian at firstname.lastname@example.org