Minutes after Tuesday’s shooting, more than 50,000 people in the Purdue community were alerted by text message. The same 50,000 people then got another alert Wednesday night of another report of shots fired that turned out to be a false alarm. Students said it’s notification that helps them sort truth from rumor.
“It was just good because there were a lot of rumors going around to get something from an official source that helps you know exactly what’s going on,” said Purdue student Courtney Farrell.
“Given the circumstances, I think it worked pretty well,” said Purdue student Nicholas Hobar.
“Without that, I don’t know how I really would have known what was going on,” said Purdue student Becca Goff.
Purdue students who are signed up for the university’s text alerts said the text alerts kept them informed and safe during Tuesday’s deadly shooting. Director of Emergency Preparedness, Ron Wright, said the text alert makes up a large part of the university’s emergency notification system. He said Purdue was already looking to the text alert system in 2007, and eventually added it after the Virginia Tech shootings. Sirens that alert students to seek shelter and e-mails are also key components of the emergency notification system.
“What we’re trying to do is hit as many places around the university as possible and then spread information around by word of mouth to get to as many people as possible so that they can then implement their individual plan on how to protect themselves,” said Wright.
Wright said there are three alert activators — the fire chief, the police chief, and the senior director of environmental health and public safety. He said each situation is different, but for a life safety event, the decision to send out alerts will be made immediately.
“Once the decision has been made that there’s something occurring on campus, like this week, that decision can be made by the responding officer,” said Wright.
Wright said the alerts are then sent out by dispatchers.
Another text alert went out Wednesday night about a report of shots fired at Purdue Village. It turned out to be a false alarm and another text was sent out. Wright said he’s not an activator, so he couldn’t speak to whether the initial text was sent prematurely. Students said they think the decision to send out an alert was the right one.
“Might as well, you know, play it safe, even if it was a false alarm. I think it was useful,” said Hobar.
“That was nice that updated us that everything was fine,” said Goff.
“Just take precaution because of what happened the day before so it’s just good to know,” said Farrell.
To sign up for the text alerts, you have to have a purdue.edu webmail account. If you would like to sign up, click here.