URBANA — Should a sudden threat to campus arise — a gunman or a tornado, for example — the University of Illinois says it's ready.
UI Associate Chancellor Robin Kaler said tests of the Illini-Alert system conducted earlier this year show the campus is prepared to provide information to university employees and students in case of an emergency — such as Thursday's shootings at Virginia Tech.
"The system that we implemented in July has been tested several times and has done amazingly well," said Kaler, the chief campus spokeswoman. "The tests show the texting works very quickly as one of the ways to reach people during emergencies."
The Illini-Alert system sends email and text messages to everyone on the Urbana campus whose email address ends in @illinois.edu, as well as text alerts to any registered faculty, student and staff personal email addresses or cellphone numbers.
The system also sends messages to campus websites, to the Illini-Alert Facebook account and to the Illini-Alert Twitter account.
The Facebook page for Illini-Alert is http://www.facebook.com/illinialert . The Twitter account can be monitored by following @IlliniAlert.
In addition, Kaler said the university posts emergency information to all campus websites.
"It will put a big red box on the campus web pages," Kaler said.
Meanwhile, Kaler said the UI still makes use of phone trees to reach people who may not be near a computer.
"The police have loud speakers in their cars they can use to provide information, and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District allows the use of directional signs on its buses to send a message," Kaler said.
Following Thursday's shooting at Virginia Tech, that university sent updates through its alert system about every 30 minutes, regardless of whether they had any new information, according to Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski.
Kaler said the UI has an emergency call center to answer people's questions.
She said three teams of 50 university employees each have been trained to answer calls from parents and other interested people in times of emergency.
That telephone number, which Kaler said is only activated in times of emergency, is 800-239-6744.
Kaler said UI police Lt. Todd Short, the campus' director of emergency planning, has been working with local, state, regional and national agencies as well as campus administrators to make emergency plans for various situations.
"If there is a tornado or an active shooter, a plan would be activated to respond to the situation and to tell people what to do," Kaler said.
Kaler urges people who work or study at the University of Illinois and who have not already done so to register for Illini-Alerts by logging onto https://emergency.illinois.edu .
The Associated Press contributed to this report.