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Northwestern observes National Preparedness Month

Northwestern observed the annual National Preparedness Month in September and will conduct a test of its emergency notification system today,  Wednesday, October 3.

At the start of each school year, the University participates in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) yearly campaign to encourage all Americans to take steps to be prepared in case of an emergency.

National Preparedness Month provides an opportunity to familiarize students, staff, faculty and visitors with the University’s safety programs and to provide awareness training to leaders, managers and community members.

Northwestern’s goal is to provide the highest level of preparedness and readiness for responding to emergencies. National Preparedness Month provides a forum for educating the University about community programs and individual responsibilities.

This year, the government’s National Preparedness Month focused on planning — with the  theme: “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.” Northwestern encourages its community to be familiar with procedures for various emergencies.

Devastating hurricanes in recent years and wildfires scorching many parts of the nation were reminders of the destruction and dangers associated with extreme weather, which often hits the Midwest in the form of tornadoes and storms.

University Police attended events as part of Wildcat Welcome orientation activities in September. They also regularly brief faculty, staff and students throughout the year on safety measures and emergency procedures to take in case of an active violence incident or other threats.

A safety exercise was also conducted in August with the Evanston Fire Department and suburban emergency units as well as the Office of Research on managing hazardous materials accidents. Another hazmat drill was conducted in March with the City of Evanston.

Aiming to improve public safety and strengthen emergency preparedness and response, the City of Evanston and the University announced a plan that was finalized Sept. 1 for the shared use of Northwestern's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in joint emergencies.

The Department of Global Marketing and Communications is using its Blackboard Connect emergency notification system on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 3, to send out a test of the University’s emergency notification system to students, faculty and staff on the Evanston and Chicago campuses.

In addition, there will be a nationwide test conducted by FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission later today to test the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system and the Emergency Alert System. Anyone with cell service in the U.S. will receive a test message to their phone. This alert will be the first of its kind and have the header “Presidential Alert.”

The Department of Safety and Security with University Police use this occasion to:

  • Remind the community that being physically and psychologically prepared to handle unexpected emergencies is an individual as well as an organizational responsibility, so familiarize yourself with preparedness information provided on University websites. 
  • Underscore Northwestern’s Emergency Management campus safety plans and University Priorities in Emergencies.
  • Encourage community members to use these websites and guidelines as resources to prepare themselves as well as the community for emergencies and preparedness, including the following:

The Office for Research Safety (ORS)

Campus Emergency Information

Emergency Procedures Sheet

Campus Safety and Crime Prevention Resources

The emergency notification test, at 11:15 a.m. today, Wednesday, Oct. 3, of the Blackboard Connect system will be held each year. This is the University system that would alert students, staff and faculty of an imminent emergency via phone, text, email, and social media in an actual emergency. All Northwestern students, staff, and faculty are reminded to please review and update your emergency contact information. Out-of-date information will prevent or delay delivery of important information during an emergency.

It you do not receive an alert Wednesday morning, be sure to update your personal contact information.

Students can do this by logging into CAESAR.

Faculty and staff can do this by going to the Human Resources webpage on the University’s website and signing in to the myHR self-service portal. Or, go directly to myHR and log in with your NetID and password.

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