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Policies and procedures for communicating public safety issues

Emergency Response and Evacuation Procedures

It is the policy of Point Park University to provide timely warning to all students, faculty and staff of the University with regard to public safety and/or emergency issues affecting those on campus, and where applicable, to provide notice to evacuate.

The PointAlert emergency notification system is in place to provide all members of the campus community with appropriate notice of potential or actual threats to health or safety. In the event of a threat, the PointAlert system immediately communicates a time sensitive message to the entire campus community by mass E-mail via the campus E-mail system. The PointAlert system also has the ability to deliver such messages using one or more additional methods, as may be elected by members of the campus community. Such additional methods of communication include: mobile phone, social media accounts, text pager, or PDA with a wireless connection. The PointAlert notification system is deployed by the Public Safety Dispatch Center, a 24 hour a day, year-round operation.

Additionally, where evacuation is called for, all buildings on campus utilize a fire alarm system which notifies those in the building that they must evacuate. Students are trained in proper evacuation procedures, and signage is in place to direct all others out of buildings.

Procedures and Responsibility for Emergency Alerts

If a threat is reported on campus, Campus Police or Public Safety security staff are dispatched immediately to investigate and confirm the reported incident or threat. Their report is communicated immediately to the chief of University police, who initiates contact with the executive team, consisting of: 1) the assistant vice president of public safety/chief of University police, 2) the captain of public safety, 3) assoc. vice president of student affairs, 4) the senior vice president of academic and student affairs, 4) the senior vice president of finance and operations, 5) the vice president of development and alumni affairs, 6) the vice president of external affairs, 7) the director of university health services, 8) the vice president of operations,9) managing director of marketing and public relations.

This executive team normally determines if the PointAlert notification system will be initiated, as well as the message to be communicated. However, where contact with the executive team might cause inappropriate delay, the chief of University police will determine if the PointAlert system will be initiated and the message to be communicated unless, in the professional judgment of these responsible authorities, the PointAlert notice might actually compromise efforts to assist or jeopardize efforts to mitigate an emergency.

Determining the Content of an Emergency Alert

The content of the emergency alert that is deployed by the Public Safety Dispatch Center is normally determined by the executive team, and may consist of one of many pre-written script messages, or a message tailored to the facts of the emergency. Pre-written script messages have been developed for a: water main break, power outage, hazardous material spill, tornado watch, tornado warning, suspicious package found, bomb scare, fire on campus, gunman on campus, natural gas leak, campus evacuation, and severe weather. However, where contact with the executive team might cause inappropriate delay, the chief of University police will determine the message content, or direct the Dispatch Center to deploy a scripted message.

Notification of Appropriate Segments of the Community

Because of the compact nature of the University campus, the PointAlert notifications will normally be communicated to all students, faculty and staff. Additionally, community facilitators and Office of Student Life representatives will disseminate notifications verbally to students and visitors in the residence halls, and along with University Public Safety representatives, will assist in any building evacuations.

Disseminating Emergency Information to the Larger Community

The senior director of marketing and communications will work with the external news media to disseminate information to the larger community. Messages to the external community will be consistent with the messages disseminated to the internal University community via the PointAlert system, as well as on the University's website. At the same time, the University Public Safety Department will communicate with the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety.

Testing of Emergency Response and Evacuation Procedures

The University tests its emergency notification system and its evacuation procedures once during the fall semester and once during the spring semester. If deployed, that will constitute an unannounced test of the system. Otherwise, the tests are announced in advance to the University community via internal communication outlets, including a campus-wide email. Following any test, results (including a description of the exercise, the date, time, and whether the test is announced or unannounced) are documented with the University Public Safety Department as well as the City of Pittsburgh Public Safety Department, and adjustments made where necessary.