Fairfield University introduces new emergency notification system and expands other security measures

A new emergency notification system awaits Fairfield University students when they arrive on campus this fall. The new system, Connect-Ed service from the NTI Group, Inc., will enable the University to send personalized voice messages to up to six phone numbers per person and can also send text messages to cell phones and e-mail addresses. Mark C. Reed, vice president of administrative services and student affairs at Fairfield University, said the University will use the system to communicate information to students, faculty, and staff in the event of campus emergencies.

Reed stressed that the new system does not replace other forms of communication now in place for emergency situations, but rather is an additional tool. In order to implement the additional service, the University will be checking and adding cell phone numbers and other information in the coming weeks, using an online process.

Reed said that Fairfield University security measures are continually being evaluated and updated and as part of that process, the following enhancements will be added to the system this fall:

  • All resident assistants will be equipped with portable radios;
  • A website with a direct emergency link will give the campus community information on where to go in an emergency;
  • In addition to the present Crisis Management Team, the University is adding an Incident Management Team that is compliant with the requirements of the National Incident Management System, will act as the first assessor of a crisis, and has been approved for priority service from Nextel;
  • An Operation Center for emergencies has been added to the Department of Public Safety;
  • Seven emergency red phones with direct links to the Department of Public Safety will be installed in the Bannow Science Center; and
  • An emergency preparedness brochure will be hand delivered by Public Safety officers to students in their residences.

One of the concerns with the Virginia Tech tragedy was the rapidity with which students could be reached. The new emergency notification system is intended to improve Fairfield's capabilities in this area.

Just prior to the Virginia Tech tragedy, Fairfield University enlisted its Department of Public Safety to put all university personnel though information sessions so they would know what to expect in case of an emergency. A video of that presentation is available for campus members unable to make any of the sessions.

The sessions were given priority, Reed said, because while competent and trained emergency responders are crucial, "Bottom line, plans are good to have in place, but it's all in the response, and a lot of that comes down to split second judgments on the part of individuals - some of whom might not actually be part of any formal emergency team."

Fairfield University's Office of Public Safety has long been recognized for its high professional standards. All applicants for the position of Public Safety Officer must be licensed Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). Officers continuously patrol campus (24/7) and are recognized by the State as Supplemental First Responders for the Town of Fairfield

In their ongoing partnership, Fairfield University officials and executive level officials from the Town of Fairfield Police and Fire Departments met earlier this year for a simulation meeting/exercise.

This fall for the first time the University's Office of Public Safety, in conjunction with University College, is offering to the public a 140-hour EMT course that will satisfy the requirements for the National Registry Test.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 9, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 17

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