WWU to test its Western Alert emergency notification system Oct. 15

Dear Campus Community,

Western Washington University plans to test its emergency notification system known as Western Alert at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday, Oct.15 and also conduct a campus earthquake drill.

Western Alert is a group of ways to reach students, faculty and staff with important safety information.

In conjunction with the Western Alert test drill, Western will be conducting an earthquake drill. This test will coincide with the Great Washington ShakeOut and Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management tsunami siren test. Note that the tsunami sirens will use the real wailing sound of the siren for approximately 2 minutes, not the Westminster Chimes that occurs during the regular monthly tests. They request you do not call 911. Sirens are located in Blaine, Birch Bay, the Lummi Nation, Point Roberts, Sandy Point, and the Port of Bellingham. The campus community is encouraged to practice how to Drop, Cover and Hold On at this time if you are able, or at some other time on Oct. 15.

The WWU Central Health and Safety Committee has recommended that three safety drills be performed each academic year: lockdown, earthquake and fire.

The following Western Alert elements will be tested on Oct. 15:

  • Desktop notification on installed computers throughout campus, including offices, classrooms and computer labs where a test message will be broadcast. Users need to only click on the green “Acknowledge” button to make the test message disappear.
  • Test voice messages over the campus fire alarm system (building enunciation).
  • Sending text messages to everyone who has registered in Web4U at MyWestern.
  • Test emails to students, faculty and staff.
  • Posting a Western Alert message on the emergency communication webpage, https://emergency.wwu.edu and university homepage.
  • Posting a message on Western’s Facebook page and Twitter feed
  • Posting a message on connected campus digital signage

On Oct. 15, a test voice message (building enunciation) will be repeated several times in buildings as well as some outside speakers at: the university tennis courts, the south campus oval at the Communications Facility, and at the Old Main lawn. Amber fire alarm strobes also will flash in the main corridors of academic buildings and bathrooms.

A critical element of Western Alert, a text message is one of the most reliable ways to quickly provide emergency information. Even if users do not regularly text on their cell phones, most phones are capable of receiving text information. Western students, faculty and staff who have not yet registered to receive Western Alerts via text message are asked to update their personal information via the Web4U application. Employees may also call the Human Resources Department at 650-3774 for assistance in signing up.

Messages from the Western Alert emergency communications system come in three warning levels, plus weather advisories:

  • Western Alerts are sent when an imminent threat to the health and safety of campus exists. These alerts are always sent via both text and e-mail and may include other notification methodologies, depending on the severity of the incident. The texts will almost always point you to your WWU email for more information. These messages may incorporate follow-up information as it becomes available.
  • WWU Crime Notices at Western shall be distributed to students and employees for any of the 15 Clery Act crimes that pose a serious or continuing threat to the Western community.
  • WWU Campus Advisories are sent out typically via email for situations when there is not an imminent threat but a situation of concern.
  • Western Weather Advisories are sent to campus when inclement weather such as snow has occurred, and the campus community may need to adjust their schedules due to closures or delays, or when the university is operating on a normal schedule but more time may be needed to get to campus. Weather notification is also posted on the WWU home page, the WWU Inclement Weather page at https://emergency.wwu.edu, and via Western’s Storm Hotline phone message system at (360) 650-6500.

To date, 97 percent of WWU students, 79 percent of staff and 73 percent of faculty members have provided their cell phone numbers to Web4U to receive emergency text messages. For more information, visit Western’s Safety and Emergency Information webpage at https://emergency.wwu.edu.