Utah State Works to Improve its Code Blue System
Utah State University’s public safety department is making improvements to its Code Blue emergency notification system.
- By Jessica Davis
- May 28, 2019
Utah State University’s public safety department is making improvements to its Code Blue emergency notification system. Planned improvements include rapid-alert buttons, new administrative positions and an easier sign-up system.
The call for improvements to the Code Blue system stemmed from a false-alarm Code Blue alert sent out on Feb. 20, reading only “Armed Aggressor. Run. Hide. Fight.”
According to USU spokesman Tim Vitale, the message was a mistake that happened while technicians were installing buttons that would alert students to important information. IT has worked to resolve the issue following the incident.
The four buttons—EMERGENCY, ALL CLEAR, ACTIVE SHOOTER and SNOW REMOVAL—are designed to serve as a preliminary message, followed by more detailed updates once campus safety has more information.
Amanda DeRito, Director of Crisis Communications for USU Public Relations, said the alert system is designed to help dispatch by alerting the community as quickly as possible.
“We only have one dispatch available at a time for emergency calls. In the case of an emergency, say a shooter for example, dispatch needs to alert everyone quickly so that they don’t get overwhelmed with calls. Then, once more information is available, we can work with them to get information to the public”, DeRito said.
DeRito said that the university may consider making the Code Blue system opt-out in the future. Students can choose to sign up for the alerts when they enroll, but there is currently no requirement to do so. An opt-out system would automatically enroll students during their registration process, requiring them to manually opt-out of receiving emergency notifications.
One of the issues with the false alarm sent out in February was that students who weren’t signed up to receive Code Blue alerts were unaware of the alarm.
“This is one of the improvements we hope to make in the future with an opt-out system,” DeRito said. “The problem is that we get a lot of parents’ cell phone numbers or landlines when students register. So that is something we are going to have to work on.”
DeRito said that the program will be easier to sign up for in the future. Data and feedback has been collected, and the university is working on a focus group training plan for the fall.
“We recognize that there are gaps in our knowledge and training. We hope that taking these steps will help us be more prepared,” DeRito said.
Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.