University slates test of new siren warning system
Posted by Mark Hendricks
University News Service
Sept. 24, 2008
A new siren warning system installed over the summer at Texas State University-San Marcos will alert students, faculty and staff when dangerous lightning may occur on campus and can also be used in case of other emergencies.
The Thor Guard lightning prediction system alerts university emergency personnel when conditions exist that could produce dangerous lightning in the vicinity of the Texas State campus. Sirens and strobe lights that are audible and visible across campus are then activated either automatically or manually, warning those on campus to seek shelter until an all-clear is sounded.
Although the system is designed to predict hazardous lightning conditions, it may be activated manually in the event of other potential dangers, such as tornado warnings or police emergencies.
The university plans to conduct a test of the system on Tuesday, Oct. 7, during the noon hour. Students, faculty and staff will be advised further when the test will take place. The siren may also be audible off-campus in some parts of the San Marcos community.
Sgt. Robert Campbell of the Texas State University Police Department said the university community has been told of the installation of the Thor Guard system. In fact, the campus community was notified before Hurricane Ike hit Texas that it might be used if there were tornado warnings issued because of that storm.
“We sent an e-mail message to all students, faculty and staff telling them the system would be used in the event of a tornado warning. A one-minute solid siren blast means to seek shelter immediately. The all-clear alert is three five-second blasts. Ike’s path bypassed San Marcos, so we did not have to use the system, but we certainly took comfort knowing we had it available,” said Campbell.
Joanne Smith, Texas State’s vice president of student affairs, said the Thor Guard system is one of several methods the university now uses to alert the campus in the event of emergencies.
“In light of the tragedies we have witnessed at schools and on college campuses in the past few years, universities across the country have been reviewing and improving the ways they communicate emergency information to students, faculty and staff. We have implemented several measures at Texas State that we hope will make us as prepared as we possibly can be if the need arises,” said Smith.
Over the summer, the university installed electronic message boards in all classrooms and several university office suites. These may be activated by University Police and used to broadcast emergency information either campus-wide or to individual buildings when necessary.
Other methods the university uses to communicate essential information include:
- Posting emergency information on the university’s home page at www.txstate.edu
- E-mail from the University Police Department or the University News Service to all students, faculty and staff
- Voice mail messages sent to all campus telephones
- Text messages sent to subscribers of the Mobile Campus emergency warning system
- Messages recorded on the university news hotline at (512) 245-2424
- Local media announcements, including campus radio station KTSW, 89.9 FM
Information about university emergency procedures is available at http://www.emergencyinfo.txstate.edu/
For more information, contact Sgt. Robert Campbell of the Texas State University Police Department at (512) 245-2805.