You’ll start hearing Wednesday about a new tool at UTMB called “First Call.” It’s a new emergency alert communication system that allows faculty, staff, students and many university contractors to use the new online campus directory to designate an alternate email address or telephone number where an email, voice or text message can be quickly sent in an emergency. It will complement rather than replace the UTMB email, web and phone-based alert systems currently in use.
When faced with a serious threat (think gunman, barge explosion near campus, hurricane), a very brief pre-recorded message will be sent to those who subscribe to the system, instructing them to seek information and updates from other existing university information sources. This grew out of the Virginia Tech incident, which taught the nation that communication needs to be faster, quicker and in people’s pockets, hands and faces in an emergency. It builds on what is already a well developed and often-exercised emergency plan and communication system at UTMB.
Will First Call make our communication system better? Definitely. Will it keep something horrible from getting worse? We hope. Will it be the perfect solution to any threat that could ever possibly present itself? Unlikely. But we’ll keep working on it.
The IEPOs (Mike Megna and Dr. Joan Richardson), Information Services and the members of the “Critical Incident Response Taskforce” (a group commissioned after VT to look at emergency response and services related to students) get the credit for bringing this to life.