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MUSC Alert system passes first major test

by Mary Helen Yarborough
Public Relations
While universities across the country are trying to develop effective emergency alert systems to avert tragedies similar to what occurred at Virginia Tech and on other campuses, MUSC’s own system has progressed with unprecedented success and efficiency.
During its first quarterly test Jan. 4, MUSC Alert didn’t falter in meeting the critical reach and timing standards set by Risk Management, Public Safety, Information Systems and the Web team in marketing that helped build and design the system.
The MUSC Alert system provides timely information regarding campus-related emergencies sent simultaneously via text messages to cell phones, personal digital assistants; and e-mail accounts; and through a uniquely-designed desktop alert system. Pre-recorded voice message alerts also can be delivered to cell phones.
“The first quarterly test of the MUSC Alert system was extremely successful,” said Jennifer Taylor, University Risk Management business manager. “We posted for delivery 3,374 text and voice messages, and approximately 8,500 desktop alerts.”
Simultaneously, an e-mail was sent to every e-mail address in the MUSC system. “We sent a message to approximately 18,250 e-mail addresses all within a matter of minutes,” Taylor said.
The e-mail message sent to registrants and non-registrants read: “This is a quarterly test of the MUSC Alert Emergency Notification System. You are getting this message, because you have an MUSC e-mail account. MUSC Alert is MUSC’s Emergency Notification System. All registered users of this system receive a text (via short messaging service), voice, e-mail and desktop message. If you are a registered user of MUSC Alert and did not receive a text and/or voice message, please be sure your mobile number is correct.”
The system had been pilot-tested to a handful of registrants prior to the Jan. 4 broad-scale test. As a result of this test, an additional 381 people signed up for MUSC Alert, Taylor said.
Since its official launch, a few new features are being developed. For example, desktop alerts have only reached LYNX system PCs with Windows. Software is being developed so that alerts will also reach Mac and non-LYNX system PCs, Taylor said.
Currently, the Simon paging system is not connected to the alert system, but MUSC Alert will work in conjunction with the paging system as well as other notification systems currently available on campus; including Internet (MUSC Red Button), landline phone systems, system fail phones, overhead paging and radios.
The MUSC Alert notifications will be sent for emergencies that directly affect, or will directly impact the MUSC campus, Taylor added.
Risk Management and Public Safety manage and administer the use of the system. The type of emergency also would determine what office will issue the alert.
 “For instance, Public Safety would issue alerts in response to a police emergency, or those that might involve a hostage situation, bomb threat, or shooting,” Taylor said. “Risk Management would issue the alert in other events such as a weather emergency, chemical spill or fire.”
The alerted public, however, would not know the difference in the system that is remarkably seamless.
Meanwhile, those who have registered should have received a text and/or voice message. If not, registrants should check their information by clicking on, to see if the information is correct.
Another test of the system is planned for the first week in April. For information, questions or concerns regarding the MUSC Alert system, contact Taylor at

Register for MUSC Alert
To receive emergency text and voice messages on your cell phone, go to
All faculty, staff and students are encouraged to register.

Friday, Jan. 25, 2008
Catalyst Online is published weekly, updated as needed and improved from time to time by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.