False alarm at FSU causes panic, confusion
Florida State University’s emergency alert system went off inadvertently Thursday, sending thousands of messages about a “dangerous or life threatening” situation on campus to students, parents and staff.
There was no actual threat. But the messages, which went out via emails, phone calls, texts and social media, created panic on and off campus.
“Shout out to @fsu
Alert for making everyone on campus think there was a shooter on campus,” tweeted Clayton Kulzer, an FSU student.
Teresa Munroe of Tallahassee got one of the alerts through her phone and immediately texted her daughter, who attends FSU. Her daughter replied that she was “hunkered down” in her classroom. Munroe and her husband Mark found out it was only a false alarm after calling the Tallahassee Democrat.
“We’re relieved but we have to get a hold of her daughter now, so she knows she is safe,” he said.
It happened after a representative from Siemens accidentally activated the FSU Alert system during a software update, said Dennis Schnittker, an FSU spokesman. The university partners with Siemens to provide the system, which sends alerts to nearly 60,000 contacts.
“Despite today’s error, FSU remains confident in the FSU Alert system,” Schnittker said. “To prevent this type of error from happening again, FSU is removing the vendor’s ability to activate the system. The university will retain exclusive control over the ability to activate the system.”
Reactions:Social media reacts to FSU gaffe
The Siemens representative apologized for the mishap “and understands the impact to our campus community,” Schnittker said.
The accident occurred around 10:50 a.m., sending 56,425 emails and 19,576 texts and making 54,921 automated phone calls. Numerous tweets were posted on the FSU Alert feed.
“*FSU ALERT!* Dangerous Situation! A dangerous or life threatening situation exists on Florida State University Campus. Seek shelter now," one of the Tweets said.
FSU sent out a series of tweets around 11:15 a.m. advising there was no danger after all.
"There is NO threat to campus safety - technical issue. Please resume normal campus activities. We apologize for the confusion."
Students and parents took to social media themselves to vent their frustrations.
“Just got locked in a room in Bellamy cause @fsu
Alert is in full glitch mode,” Cooper Barrett said in a tweet.
Emergency alerts are sent to all current students, faculty and staff except for those who have chosen to opt out of the system, the university said. Parents and guardians also get alerts if their children have given FSU their contact information.
Schnittker advised people to visit the FSU Alerts web page at alerts.fsu.edu anytime the status of the university is in question. The university posts emergency information and instructions to the web site as soon as they are available.
He added that on Thursday, university administrators wanted to be “absolutely positive no threat existed,” which is why there was a delay in updating the web site with correct information.