Kent State prepares for tornado season

Sarah Heber

Although the tornado warning on March 1 already passed, tornado season has just begun, and Kent State is prepared to act.

Kent State University Police Department (KSUPD) has a ‘one-touch’ button that, within minutes, alerts thousands of people affiliated with Kent State.

Once the National Weather Service alerts dispatchers at the Kent Police and KSUPD of weather emergencies, KSUPD immediately push the button to forewarn the community, said Tricia Knoles, community resource officer at KSUPD.

“They pushed the button and within the first minute, an alert went out to 4,283 university phones and speaker systems,” Knoles said, regarding the tornado warning issued on March 1. “Seventy of them were the speaker systems that are attached to the fire alarm systems in every building.”

This button made quickly communicating to students and faculty easy, Knoles said.

“Also, the clock for hearing impaired at Satterfield Hall had a message that scrolled across it, and there were emails and text messages to some of the higher-level police officers and administrators,” Knoles said. “That’s all just from one push of one button.”

The university uses a mass communication tool called Flash ALERTS to send text messages to everyone who is subscribed to the system. These alerts were sent out on March 1, however, they are not a part of the one-touch system. Because of the alert system, 53,754 subscribers were reached to be informed of the tornado warning Knoles said.

While the Kent State Police can communicate with the community on a large scale if there are weather emergencies, resident assistants (RAs) in the dorms are responsible for rounding up students and directing them to the safest place in the building.

Lake Hall RA Bianca Tanksley said being an RA is all about the safety of the students. Tanksley said she made the most of the situation.

“It wasn’t a drill, and it wasn’t planned, so since we didn’t know it was going to happen that morning, we tried to make it as smooth as possible,” Tanksley said. “It may not have been the best process ever, but we did what we could to get the students to safety because that’s what we’re focused on.”

Tanksley also noted RAs move in a week before the rest of the students to receive training on how to handle situations, such as a fire or tornado.

“Protocol is usually get as many of your students from your floor to the tornado shelter area as quickly as possible or outside if it’s a fire,” Tanksley said. ”We meet with all of the departments on campus responsible for safety and hazardous issues and get the required training prior to students moving in.”

Sarah Heber is the safety reporter, contact her at [email protected]