ASU texts, tweets students during emergencies

The tornado drill was held to recertify ASU / Sarah Bleau

Albany State University held a tornado drill on Friday to recertify the campus, and what better time to do it than during National Severe Weather Awareness Week!

ASU's tornado drill focused on their newest building: the student center.

"Specifically because this is where a lot of the students hang out in their down time," says ASU Police Maj. Cadedria Hill. "It just gives us a sense to no matter where you are on campus we have designated areas for you to be safe."

Not only was the alarm broadcasted on sirens but also through the campus alert system, which students are automatically signed up for when they register for school.

"They actually have to opt out instead of opting in and that puts the liability back on them to say 'Okay well I didn't want to have my number in the system,'" says Hill.

The campus alert system sends emergency messages to students through text message, email and even Twitter.

While students followed the drill on Twitter, they also followed campus law enforcement and staff with little resistance.

"When I said 'follow my lead' they didn't argue they just followed my lead," says Jane Mitchell-Hale, a staff member with ASU who helped direct students to the severe weather shelters.

Many students, though, were off campus celebrating the start of the weekend, so staff says they hope the next tornado drill is during a time when more people will be on campus.

"I think we should just have more people so you could see the real effect of what could happen, how devastating it could be," says Mitchell-Hale. "If it was a lot more students I could be a lot more forceful, I think I was more relaxed because there wasn't that many people."

With ASU conducting three tornado drills a year, there is still time to practice getting people to safety during a tornado when there are more students on campus.