ECU to conduct severe weather drill Wednesday
An ECU Police truck is parked in front of Wright Auditorium during Hurricane Irene last August. ECU is conducting a severe weather drill Wednesday. Photo by Cliff Hollis
(Mar. 6, 2012)
East Carolina University will conduct a severe weather drill Wednesday in conjunction with National Severe Weather Awareness Week.
The focus of the drill will be testing outdoor notification speakers on the main and health sciences campuses. Employees who have voice over internet protocol, or VOIP, phones in their campus offices will also hear messages at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday. Most buildings and offices on the health sciences campus and off-campus buildings have these phones, although some offices in the Brody Medical Sciences Building and some older modular units do not.
People on campus will hear a tone and then a verbal message, noting that is only a test of the ECU Alert emergency notification system. Employees will also receive ECU Alert test emails to their university accounts; the plasma screens located in buildings throughout campus will also carry a test message. Employees will not receive text messages on their mobile phones.
Funds provided through the University of North Carolina General Administration safety initiative paid for the speakers and the installation of 41 speakers in 16 locations on main and health sciences campuses in 2009.
Today, a total of 60 speakers are on the main and health sciences campuses, the North Campus Recreation fields and the West Research Campus. This year, 12 speakers were added at four locations. Those speakers and the seven added last year were paid for through ECU internal funding sources.
The newest speakers have been placed based on student and employee feedback on where it was hardest to hear the message clearly during the lockdown last semester.
On the health sciences campus, speakers were added to Laupus Library to cover the green space and nearby dental school modular unit, on the College of Nursing wing of the Health Sciences Building and to the Family Medicine Center to cover parking lots that had poor audio.
"We've conducted tests of our ECU Alert system, including the outdoor notification speakers, in the past but not in conjunction with Severe Weather Week," said Tom Pohlman of the ECU Environmental Health and Safety office. "Because of last year's tornadoes that passed through eastern North Carolina, we thought it was a good idea to use the National Weather Service's Severe Weather Week to test the outdoor speakers and to remind people to be prepared."
The university's designation as a StormReady University has been renewed through the National Weather Service for three more years, Pohlman said. Three other UNC-system schools have also earned the designation: UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Wilmington and Appalachian State.
To be recognized as StormReady, a university must have a 24-hour emergency operations center, a system that monitors local weather conditions, a formal hazardous weather plan and more than one way to receive and send severe weather warnings, in addition to meeting other requirements.