|ECU officials will conduct a drill March 7 to ensure readiness in the event of severe weather on campus. The drill will test methods that would be used to notify faculty, staff and students of approaching severe weather conditions, like the wind and rain pictured above during Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The drill is being held in conjunction with the National Weather Service's Severe Weather Week. (Photo By Cliff Hollis)
THIS IS A TEST
ECU to conduct severe weather drill
March 6, 2012
By Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services
East Carolina University will conduct a severe weather drill Wednesday, March 7 in conjunction with National Severe Weather Awareness Week.
The focus of the drill will be testing outdoor notification speakers located through the east and west campuses. People on campus at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday will also hear messages through VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones in campus offices.
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.
Funds provided through the UNC 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 located through east and west campus and the North Campus Recreation fields. 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 last semester’s lockdown.
“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 with ECU’s Environmental Health & 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 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.