University to test emergency notification at 12:15 p.m.

POSTED OCT. 18 AT 1:12 A.M.

The university will test a system intended to alert campus of an emergency situation today at 12:15 p.m.

Six UM representatives participated a press conference Wednesday morning at the School of Communication to discuss the Emergency Notification Network (ENN),

Alan Fish, vice president of Business Services, opened the press conference with a brief statement regarding the nature of the university’s emergency plan. Voice messages to cell and home phones, text messages, emails, outdoor emergency sirens and loudspeaker announcements are all a part of the emergency plan.

“Redundancy is very important,” said Fish, who added that the comprehensive disaster plan has “evolved and improved over time.”

Thursday’s messages, which will begin with “TEST, TEST, TEST” will only examine the communication portion of UM’s emergency response plan. Other parts have been tested in different ways and at previous times, including “Operation Sandbox,” a series of mock disasters aimed at forcing top university officials to think quickly.

The 30-minute press conference, which was open only to student press, was dominated by students’ questions ranging from student costs to the forethought given to so widely publicizing a test of this nature.

Students will be charged for the text messages they receive during the tests; as a result, the university said it will only send texts in emergency situations after tomorrow’s test.

Stewart Seruya, associate vice president of the Department of Telecommunications, expects that at least 60,000 phone calls will be made.

Ninety-eight percent of the undergraduate student body has signed up on MyUM to be contacted in case of an emergency.

The primary goal of the test is to gauge the time it takes to contact the entire UM population and to make sure everyone who is signed up is contacted.

“Tomorrow, we’ll learn a lot,” said Jacqueline Menendez, vice president of University Communications.

There will be no increased police presence during the campus-wide test. The notion of whether or not some individual may take advantage of the situation was dismissed based on the fact that other universities have performed similar tests without incident.

Students who signed up but do not receive a message on Thursday are encouraged to alert the university through the emergency preparedness Web site The site is a place for students to post comments and voice concerns about the emergency test.

While Fish praised the emergency notification network, he urged students to tell others in an emergency situation, saying, “The grape vine works faster than the Internet.”

Pat Cunnane may be contacted at