During the Summer of 2007, in the wake of several college campuses experiencing emergency situations, Ouachita appointed a study committee to review its emergency notification procedures and make recommendations for any needed improvement. The study committee assessed every available means of reaching the Ouachita community, and with their recommendations, work began on a new system. The new system utililizes multiple layers or components tied together via a web console to form the Ouachita Emergency Notification System (OENS). Using multiple components reduces the chance of any single point of failure. The new system was constructed, tested, and made fully operational by December 1, 2007.
In the event of an emergency, notifications may be sent to any or all of the system components. The components include email, text messages, popup messages on faculty/staff and student computers, loudspeakers in various locations around the campus, designated intranet websites, and designated phones, both in the residence halls and on faculty/staff member’s desks. All of the components are integrated into one easy to use web console. Pre-recorded scripts for the most common types of emergencies are stored in the system, increasing the speed and ease of use. If needed, the system also allows live broadcasts and custom email and text messages. In the event of an emergency, the system is capable of being launched within 1-2 minutes. The notification will give information on the nature of the emergency and the appropriate action that should be taken.
Once the system has been activated, the OENS console allows updates to be posted to a special OENS website that is clearly linked from the University’s intranet websites (Home and Tigernet). These updates work like a blog and there is no limit to the number of postings. When the emergency situation has ended, the console allows an “all clear” to be sent, which will copy the OENS website postings to a log file and remove all of the links to the OENS webpage from the intranet websites.
The text messaging and the popup messaging components are the only ones that require a person to subscribe before receiving notifications. Faculty, staff and students are all encouraged to subscribe through their web portal account.
While the Ouachita Emergency Notification System is designed to reduce the probability of harm to campus students, employees, and guests, no notification system can insure the safety of all persons on campus. Rather, this plan represents the university’s efforts to exercise reasonable care in the face of an emergency situation.