THE MAGAZINE

Are Evacuation Practices Flawed?

By Megan Gates

GMU consolidated the information that would be in the app, which was finalized in August, to nine main topics: Prepare, Notification, Emergency Contacts, Bomb Threat, Disability, Earthquake, Evacuation, Fire, and Hazmat.

Each topic, when touched, opens up a new page with specific instructions of what to do in each scenario. There is also a button on the bottom of each page that brings up a list of university-specific emergency phone numbers that can be called from within the app. These are especially important because the campus may be remote and dialing 911 may get you someone 20 miles away, while dialing the campus police will get you someone 500 yards away, Britton explains.

A link to the local forecast from the National Weather Service and a link to area hospitals was also added under Farris’ recommendation to make an all-inclusive interface. “We hope that once people open up that app, it’s literally the click of two buttons to...call the right person if they needed to,” he says.

The app also allows GMU to use push notifications to alert users of a situation on campus. That feature, as with the phone calls, does require an active cellphone network. GMU will not be using the notifications for emergency alerts this fall as it currently uses its Mason Alert system for alerts, but it will be using In Case of Crisis notifications for announcements of drills—such as the October 17th earthquake drill—and information reviews.

For the earthquake drill, people were directed to the app through an announcement via the university’s emergency notification system. Users were then instructed how to respond to the earthquake.

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