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Preparation, not panic, advised during threat alerts

March 25, 2003

With the entire country in a high state of alert for terrorist activities, speculation among faculty, staff and students about the impact of a local alert is growing. What should students, faculty and staff do if an alarm sounds or a local threat is identified?

At Austin Peay, preparation for and response to security alerts fall under the Office of Public Safety, which works in concert with other University officials and with city, county, state and federal agencies.
March 25, 2003

With the entire country in a high state of alert for terrorist activities, speculation among faculty, staff and students about the impact of a local alert is growing. What should students, faculty and staff do if an alarm sounds or a local threat is identified?

At Austin Peay, preparation for and response to security alerts fall under the Office of Public Safety, which works in concert with other University officials and with city, county, state and federal agencies.

"Among other activities, we monitor intelligence information that may have a bearing on our campus community," says Eric Provost, chief of police and director of public safety. "We also monitor the Homeland Security Advisory System, the system that employs five threat-condition colors."

Under the current directive, threat conditions are ranked by color, with green indicating the threat is low and red indicated the threat is severe. During a red alert, public and government facilities are closed.

The entire country is currently in "threat condition orange," Provost says, meaning the country is at high risk of a terrorist attack.

Provost says the tornado of 1998 led to refinement of APSU's Emergency Preparedness Plan, and he's working with city and county officials to incorporate more specific information relative to the threat of terrorism.

For example, the county has designated APSU as a staging area for moving persons to vaccination sites if the threat of smallpox was imminent.

"If that contingency arises, all members of campus will be afforded the opportunity to be vaccinated," Provost says.

Despite the current state of alert dictated by the war with Iraq and the likelihood of reprisal, Provost says the odds of a terrorist incident affecting the campus are small.

"The general threat of terrorism to APSU or our community is low," he says. Still, it's possible that weapons of mass destruction could bring "collateral effects to campus."

In the case of a Red Alert, campus police would issue a campuswide warning over an audible Emergency Notification System. The Emergency Operations Center would be activated at Shasteen Building, and Emergency Management Team members would meet within two hours to review the nature of the threat, refine the plan and review status of personnel and resources.

Should a local incident or warning take place, Provost suggests that members of the campus community take the following actions.

Provost is set to attend a Homeland Security Briefing with Gov. Phil Bredesen, Maj. Gen. Jerry D. Humble, deputy governor for homeland security, and other key homeland security leaders to discuss ideas, concerns and ways to improve upon the integrated efforts by local, state and federal levels of government to protect Tennessee.

For a complete description of the five levels of threat conditions, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/03/20020312-5.html.