MUSC The Catalyst
MUSC arial view


MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants Catalyst PDF File MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause

MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


MU alert system to serve in emergencies

by Megan Fink
Public Relations
It’s been more than three years since the tragic shooting and killing of 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech, yet the responsibility to protect students, faculty and staff is still fresh on the minds of those behind the MUSC Alert system.
MUSC Alert passed its first major test two years ago and contributors from Risk Management, Public Safety, Information Systems, Communications and the Web team in Marketing have been working diligently to enhance the system since then. Most changes have been behind the scenes; for example, making it easier for administrators to post emergency messages on the homepage through helpful interfaces.
“Our goal is to ensure everyone on campus can receive notification,” said University Risk Management business manager Jennifer Taylor. Even parents or spouses can sign up for MUSC Alert through a student or spouse’s account. Once registered, additional contact information can be added to receive alerts.
The full system will be utilized only if there is imminent danger to MUSC’s campus. Several channels of communication are available through the system to disseminate emergency information, such as e-mail, alerts on the MUSC homepage and, messages on desktops, voicemail, and text messages sent to cell phones. Registered users will receive four test text messages per year on their cell phones. One text is sent each quarter of the business year. Non-registered users will still receive alerts through their MUSC email account.
Test e-mails read: “This is a quarterly test of the MUSC Alert Emergency Notification System. You are getting this message, because you have an MUSC email account. MUSC Alert is MUSC’s Emergency Notification System. All registered users of this system receive a text, voice, email 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.”
University Risk Management also tracks the time it takes for a user to receive an emergency notification once it is sent. According to Taylor, users receive test text messages fairly quickly since there is less data to send. It takes slightly longer to receive pre-recorded voicemail notification.
Tests are done from Public Safety’s dispatch office, since they may be the initiators of the emergency notification. Weather-related events also have value for MUSC Alert. University Risk Management has used the system incrementally for this purpose with noncritical messages, such as winter weather advisories. Noncritical information is posted on the Web, but not sent to users’ cell phones.
According to University Risk Management, participation is now at about 40 percent. Since MUSC Alert is an important tool in reaching students and employees quickly, they hope to see that number increase. “It’s not just MUSC that is seeing low enrollment rates for their emergency response system,” said Taylor. “Even Virginia Tech has low numbers.”
To register for emergency text and voice messages on your cell phones, go to For information contact Jennifer Taylor at 792-0757 or

Friday, Aug. 27, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The 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.