Safety Remains a Top Priority for Georgia Tech

Evaluation of safety plans ongoing

As the details of the terrible tragedy in Virginia continue to unfold, the Georgia Institute of Technology joins other public institutions in realizing that such an incident could happen anytime, anywhere.

"We are profoundly grieved and saddened by this horrible tragedy, and our hearts and prayers go out to the campus community of Virginia Tech, especially to the families of those who were killed or wounded," said Georgia Tech President G. Wayne Clough. "Virginia Tech is our sister technological university and partner school in the ACC, and the connections between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech run broad and deep."

Georgia Tech has received dozens of inquiries from concerned parents regarding campus preparedness and response capabilities. The Institute conducts vulnerability assessments on facilities throughout campus and continually reviews preparedness and response procedures to enhance campus safety. Plans are also in place to address incidents ranging from natural disasters to bomb threats on campus.

"These plans are routinely exercised with local first responders, including the Atlanta Police Department (APD), Atlanta Fire Department (AFD) and the Atlanta/Fulton County Emergency Management Agency (AFCEMA)," said Andy Altizer, Georgia Tech Emergency Preparedness director. "To assure that we address ongoing concerns, Georgia Tech has an active Emergency Preparedness Advisory Group that meets monthly on campus, and includes members from these key agencies. In addition, campus first responders, emergency personnel and building managers are committed to participating in ongoing safety education to help improve preparedness and response capabilities. We are also a part of the Board of Regents' Emergency Operations Planning Committee."

Georgia Tech continues to improve its notification procedures and uses multiple means for campus notification when an emergency occurs. These include posting information on the Georgia Tech Web site, distributing campus wide e-mails, implementing a building manager notification system, broadcasting voicemails, and notifying media and the campus broadcast stations, WREK and GTCN. The Institute is also in the process of evaluating text messaging systems as another means to contact students. A recent grant from the Department of Homeland Security will fund the installation of a campus siren warning system.

With over 6,300 residents in Georgia Tech Housing's 32 residence halls, members of the Residence Life and Housing staff place a great emphasis on for emergency preparedness and response. For example, Residence Life staff are trained in crisis management and have protocols designed to handle most emergencies, in coordination with Georgia Tech Police, Counseling Center, Dean of Students, and other Atlanta and State agencies. Residence Life's Emergency Alert Plan spells evacuation and communication plans for emergencies.

The Georgia Tech Dean of Students and Counseling Center stand ready to provide emotional support to the campus community in response to the recent tragic events. For more information on the services offered by the Center, please visit its Web site at www.counseling.gatech.edu or call 404-894-2575.

"Safety is a joint effort," said Altizer. "We ask our students to be alert and report suspicious activities, to check our Web site, to tune into the news media when an event occurs and to ensure that their emergency contact information is on file and updated under the personal information icon in the student registration system."