A member of the Community Emergency Response Team assists an injured woman
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Georgia State University Panthers Pounce on Preparedness

October 2016

Georgia State University PrepareAthon LogoIn the past decade, Atlanta has experienced hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, and floods. On March 14, 2008, an EF2 tornado rocked the city. The tornado stretched 200 yards wide and traveled 6 miles after touching down. Winds up to 130 miles per hour scattered broken glass and fallen trees across Georgia State University’s campus and the surrounding neighborhoods. After a severe winter storm struck in 2014, school officials decided to boost campus emergency readiness.

Practicing Panther Preparedness
Participants of Georgia State University’s PrepareAthon!
Participants of Georgia State University’s PrepareAthon!

On September 30, 2015, Georgia State held a tornado drill. School officials used the Panther Alert System to tell students and staff about the drill by text, email, and phone.

To reach people without phones, officials made announcements over loud speakers located across the campus and in each of its buildings. Then staff tested all of the weather sirens on campus. Afterward, drill planners focused on a specific building.

Targeting the Campus Science Center
University and local partners emphasized personal safety in the Science Center. The 10-story glass building is equipped with several laboratories that store chemical, biological, and radiological materials. Local first responders taught people how to stay safe and minimize potential hazards in and around the building.

“Taking 20 minutes to practice your
evacuation plan on a regular basis
could save your life when you least
expect it.”

– Ria C. Aiken, Director of Emergency
Preparedness, City of Atlanta

“America’s PrepareAthon! reminded us of the importance of doing tornado drills on all campuses every year,” said Richard J. Muller Jr., former Senior Biosafety Officer and Assistant Director of Research Safety Programs at Georgia State University. “And it highlighted our duty to get the word out about preparedness.”

After the drill, FEMA leaders debriefed with participants and urged them to download an emergency alert notification app like Notify ATL, which provides real-time weather alerts. To learn more and find additional resources online, visit www.gema.ga.gov.