Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech E-mails Emergency Warnings

33 people were killed in a bloody shooting spree at Virginia Tech yesterday, for those of you who don't already know. Apparently, the people in charge at Virginia Tech believed that the best way to inform students of a rampaging killer on the lose was via e-mail. And I quote from the above linked news article:

At 9:50 a.m., a second e-mail went out warning students and staff to "stay put."

"A gunman is loose on campus," it read. "Stay in buildings until further notice. Stay away from all windows."

This sort of situation, in a high school, at least, calls for what is called a Code Red, or Shelter-In-Place condition, where someone sounds an alarm and we all hide. Apparently this sort of thing is done by e-mail in college. Who sent these out? Did they really think that students sitting in class would read them and take cover? If the students knew there was some sort of emergency, do you think that the first think they would do would be check their e-mail to find out about it? Isn't there a PA system, or a tornado alarm, or a fire alarm, or some sort of alarm they could have pulled when they noticed the rampaging killer gunning down students? There is a time and place for e-mail, but this is most certainly not it.

If only the university had a Code Red alarm system in place, perhaps some of these people could have been spared. Instead, they attempted to send emergency warnings via e-mail, and 33 people were killed.

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