Colleges seek to faster ways to get out word of emergencies

April 17, 2007 Reported by Associated Press

Colleges seek to faster ways to get out word of emergencies

UNDATED (AP) - Administrators at Virginia Tech are being subjected to some second-guessing over how long it took to get out a campus-wide warning in yesterday's shooting rampage.

The first killings occurred in a dorm. More than two hours later, the gunmen opened fire in a classroom building, killing 30 more people and ultimately himself. The only alert was sent by e-mail, telling people there'd been a shooting and urging caution. Security officials at other big schools are sympathetic.

And they're also looking at ways to speed up communications in a crisis. U-C Berkeley is considering sirens or an outdoor P-A system. The University of Florida is already working with police on an auto-dialing phone system for emergencies. And Virginia Tech itself has been working on a system to warn people via cell-phone text messaging.