Bomb threat tests T-Alert: Fraudelent call forces campus wide evacuation
November 12, 2011 Leave a comment
by Jake Hawkins
Investigations are still ongoing after an unknown suspect called in a bomb threat Monday, forcing an evacuation of the entire Transylvania University campus.
The threat, which was received by the Department of Public Safety at 11:13 a.m., stated that an explosive would detonate on campus at 1:00 p.m., according to Director of Public Safety Gregg Muravchik.
After the threat was received, a T-Alert was issued that instructed all students to move off campus. Multiple reports, however, confirmed malfunctions in the campus-wide emergency alert system.
“I received the emails on time, but I never get text messages,” said sophomore Annie Wright.
Those on campus also noted that the campus-wide public address system was not used.
“That should have been activated,” said Muravchik, “We’re working hard to make sure any deficiencies are corrected.”
Vice President for Information Technology Jason Whitaker explained the reason some students may have received delayed text messages was due to the “email-to-text bridge” currently utilized by T-Alert.
This “bridge” sends an email, rather than a text message, to your phone’s carrier-identified address. These email messages, however, may be delayed by phone carriers.
“There are services that we could pay for that guarantee timely delivery, but because T-Alert reaches you in many ways we have felt in the past that the email-to-text method sufficed as one more way to reach (students),” said Whitaker.
After Monday’s incident, though, this method of issuing T-Alerts to phones may be re-evaluated.
Despite these problems, campus was successfully evacuated before 1:00 p.m., the time the bomb was threatened to be detonated. Members of the residence life staff, DPS and others assembled to verify all buildings were evacuated.
“I was very pleased with the way students, faculty and staff responded,” said Muravchik.
Following the evacuation, DPS partnered with other agencies, including the Lexington-Fayette police and fire departments, to sweep the campus to determine no threat was present.
Campus resumed normal activities at 2:30 p.m. after it was determined no threat was present.
DPS is still working to identify the person responsible for the fraudulent call. If caught, the person could face a Class C felony for terroristic threatening.