Whether it’s a flood, a fire, a crash, or active violence, most people are never prepared for disaster when it strikes. That’s why the University has Dave.
“My job is 95 percent boredom, and 5 percent sheer terror,” Emergency Preparedness manager Dave Bujak said.
Bujak, who has been in the field of emergency management for 20 years, believes in building a “culture of preparedness” wherever he goes. Between his department, Environmental Health & Safety, and the Department of Public Safety, every possible aspect of security is accounted and planned for, from criminal threats to weather risks.
This manifests as a lot of planning and brainstorming “what if’s,” as well as training personnel such as Facilities, University Communications, and other University stakeholders to spring into action in the event of emergencies.
One important piece of this puzzle is AlertUR, the University’s crisis notification system which delivers messages via email, text, and phone calls to the student body. Though the email notifications are mandatory, Bujak says, the other methods of contact are not; students must sign up for them on the AlertUR webpage.
This is one reason the system is tested once a semester: to raise awareness about the system and remind people to include their additional information. The test for this semester occurred this past Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
“Our biggest challenge […] is the participation rate,” Bujak said. The University has about 62 to 67 percent of students signed up to receive text messages and voice calls about emergencies. The national goal for such participation is 90 percent.
Bujak also highlighted the newest addition to the notification system as a way for student participation: the UR Mobile app. The software, in addition to delivering crisis notifications, also gives weather and traffic updates, provides a calendar of events happening around campus, and supplies information on parking, dining, and more.
“A lot of times, it takes something to happen for people to realise that they need it,” Bujak noted.
According to Bujak, if every individual on campus was prepared for a crisis, the University would be well-equipped to handle an emergency situation.