The Ferris State University Department of Public Safety explained to the Torch what the procedures and protocol are for a non-specific bomb threat after one was left on a voicemail in the Business Office at the Timme Center two weeks ago.
Martin Bledsoe, director of public safety, said there is an emergency response and disaster control plan.
“It has been in place for a very long time; it has been developed and re-developed,” Bledsoe said.
Bledsoe also said the university is in the process of creating a new plan that consists of a emergency response team, which is a team that consists of 30 people trained across campus.
In the event of a threat, the emergency operating system will ensure everything is stable with law enforcement and the emergency response team is on alert.
In addition, factors will be looked at such as past threats received, the level of credibility and the time of day.
Bledsoe said they look at traditional areas and locations that could pose a problem. In addition, officials will look at what steps they must take.
The new plan, which will be unveiled on Feb. 10, said it is formed around a Federal Emergency Management Agency framework. If there was a bomb threat, the necessary steps would be taken to follow proper procedures.
Each situation is different with varying circumstances, which means each emergency is handled differently and not everyone is notified at the same time.
“In this case, or in any case, there is going to be a difference of who receives information when,” Bledsoe said.
The areas with the highest target are generally notified first. Officials also make sure they are careful not to create a hazard and/or panic among the campus and community.
“When we put out messaging, we can’t necessarily put messages out to everyone at the same time,” Bledsoe said.
The target time it takes for all of the campus to be notified is 90 minutes, but as mentioned, it depends on the situation.
“We have many, many years in emergency management and police service,” Bledsoe said.
With emergency messaging, Bledsoe said it’s impossible to hit just one button and send out information to everyone within a few minutes.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Bledsoe said. He added there are certain things that need to be thought about and prepared for. Factors that need to be taken into consideration are who needs to be notified when and who is skilled to appropriately handle the situation.
Ferris President David Eisler appoints emergency managers along with developing a task force who take part in notifying the university.
“There are tough areas for President Eisler and the rest of us,” Bledsoe said. He also said it can be tough at times knowing exactly what to do depending on the situation at hand.
He said awareness has been increased for professionals, state officials, law officials, mutual aid and those trained for emergency situations. There are also observers who are available for additional help.
A number of agencies are contacted including state police and other information centers. In addition, Ferris networks with other universities in the state and notifies them when an emergency is present.
As for the individual who called in the threat, there is still an on-going investigation.
“We have some excellent leads on who may be responsible for this,” Bledsoe said.
There are serious consequences for these types of situations and all reports similar to the bomb threat are taken seriously.
“We don’t blow off safety reports,” Bledsoe said. “We’re trying to make sure we can bring them to justice.”