Emergency preparedness for local universities

(KNOE) - After the deadly tornado went through Louisiana Tech University's campus a few weeks ago, their emergency response team says they were ready because they prepare year-round.

Election security / Source: MGN

Louisiana Tech says their emergency response team is comprised of faculty that are trained to respond to dangerous situations. They say they meet with local law enforcement throughout Lincoln Parish multiple times a year to go through possible emergency scenarios.

Officials say they have pre-scripted messages for things like weather events to make sure they can get the message out to students and faculty as fast as possible across social media, email and text messages.

"To the credit really of the weather services in our region, we knew it was coming, we could see it,” says Jim King, the Vice President for Student Advancement at Louisiana Tech. “We began notifications relatively early just alerting people as it began unfolding, and they had predicted it fairly accurately so we were able to prepare the university."

In the wake of the tornado, they say they're already looking at ways to improve their response to something like that in the future. They say during the storm many places were without power, so for future events, they now have heavy-duty phone chargers for every member of the emergency response team.

They say they’re also looking at getting ID badges for members of their team so that local law enforcement knows who they are when they arrive on the scene.

The school says students, faculty, and parents have to go to the university website to sign up for their tech alert system.

ULM says social media and their alert system is also a big part of how they keep the campus community safe. They say you can also head over to the Warhawk alert page to sign up.

The University Police Department says they complete real-life scenarios and training with the local police, fire departments, and homeland security multiple times a year. They say it’s important to work with local fire departments because they say when people are in danger they want to have as many agencies responding as possible.

They say for emergencies, university staff from the physical plant, student life, the counseling center and more will meet at the emergency operations center.

Tom Torregrossa, the director of University Police, says usually first responders will respond to emergencies, but he says they also have a community emergency response team (CERT) comprised of a group of trained individuals.

"That will assist us in our campus response in terms of, say, a gas leak, or a fire or just an incident that is not of that great of magnitude,” says Torregrossa. “And it's seemed to have worked out really well for us so far."