Utah State University officials are responding to complaints about a recent false Code Blue Alert. The system is used by university police to warn the campus community of emergency threats.
Last week a software technician was trying to install equipment that would send out general templates during a campus emergencies. A glitch in the system accidentally triggered a Code Blue alert that warned students, faculty, and staff to be aware of an armed aggressor on the USU Logan campus. The announcement encouraged them to run, hide, and fight to avoid danger. Eight minutes later the system posted an All Clear alert stating the Code Blue warning was accidental and also encouraged students, faculty, and staff to resume normal activities.
“There’s been a lot of shootings across the country," said Utah State University student Victoria Thompson. "You never think it can happen to your school until it does. So when you get an alert like that it is kind of hard to resume activity as normal. Thoughts go through your head of what if it was real and what if I had been affected and it’s hard to get back into that mindset of everything's fine again.”
Thompson said being on campus when the false alter happened caused her to panic.
“It was frustrating to get an alert that could be potentially dangerous," she said. "And for it to not be real, it causes a lot of panic and stress on people that could be avoided."
USU Police Chief Michael J. Kuehn and USU President Noelle Cockett wasted no time sending out an apology statement including information about counseling services. President Cockett explained that the unintentional exercise has resulted in the university coming up with plans to improve training, upgrade building security, and enhance communications.
“Being prepared is so important for all of us," President Cockett said.
There should be more training for staff and students in the event of an armed aggressor, said Cockett, who adds that emergency code trainings should not be a one-time thing. She is recommending the university hold an occasional refresher course. She said USU should work to better secure buildings and supply rooms with proper emergency equipment. Officials realize now that in large gathering areas like the library, there needs to be a way to get the message out to everyone when text and email can’t be used. Some campus professors don't allow cell phones during lectures and testing.
“While we hope that never in our lifetimes we have to actually implement a response, take a couple of minutes to think of how an appropriate response might be,” President Cockett said.
USU Emergency officials are working on ways to further train the campus community to realize that if an armed aggressor notice is sent it is best to run, hide, and fight. They say to run if you can and attempt to leave the premises. If running is not an option it is best to hide. Otherwise, said Cockett, it is best to fight in an attempt to incapacitate the aggressor.