CORVALLIS, Ore. - As part of ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of students, employees and the campus itself, Oregon State University will conduct the first test of the school year of its emergency alert system at 2 p.m. on Oct. 12.

Implemented three years ago in the wake of the infamous shooting rampage at Virginia Tech that left 57 individuals dead or wounded, the alert system can push out immediate text, e-mail and phone messages to all students, faculty and staff. It is also connected to classroom phones across campus.

OSU routinely tests the system each term during the school year to remind students and employees to access the system at under the "Enter your contact information" tab. Once logged in, every individual with an OSU e-mail address can specify up to nine points of contact for himself/herself and friends or family members. The idea is to supply sufficient contact information so that no matter where an individual is, he/ she may still be reached with vital emergency information.

System administrators encourage individuals to prioritize text addresses, mobile phone numbers, private e-mail accounts so that even if OSU systems are slowed by heavy traffic or unavailable during an emergency, notifications will still get through. The system, which is supported by Blackboard Connect, Inc., can deliver thousands of text, e-mail and voice messages within minutes of the message being sent.

Multiple other campuses of the Oregon University System and Oregon community college system employ the same alert system and have used it to heighten safety in higher education environments around the state over the past three years.

In addition to routinely testing the system, OSU has used it for real emergencies, including alerting campus to an armed gunman in a standoff with police near campus and a steam tunnel explosion and fire last fall that forced the closure of campus.

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.