Emergency Notification, Response and Evacuation

Effective: September 7, 2010
Contact: ISU Department of Public Safety


Iowa State University is dedicated to providing a safe and secure environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requires institutions to disclose emergency response policies and evacuation procedures that will be implemented whenever a significant emergency or dangerous situation exists on campus that involves an immediate threat to the health or safety of students, staff or visitors.

Policy Statement

It is the policy of the university to be in compliance with the HEOA Emergency Response and Evacuation Regulations.

Reporting an Emergency

All members of the ISU community are urged to report a dangerous situation on campus that involves an immediate threat to the health or safety of students, staff or visitors by calling 9-1-1.

Institutional Response

ISU Police will initiate the institutional response by immediately investigating reports of significant emergencies and dangerous situations within the university community. ISU Police may request assistance from other university departments or units, as necessary, to confirm that an immediate threat to the health or safety of students, staff or visitors exists on campus.

Emergency Notification

Should an emergency or dangerous situation pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of campus community members, they shall be notified without unreasonable delay, unless ISU Police determine that an immediate notification would place the ISU community or a victim at greater risk or would compromise efforts to contain, respond to or mitigate the emergency. It is the responsibility of ISU Police with the assistance of other departments or units, as necessary, to:

  • Determine the content of any notification
  • Determine the appropriate campus segments to notify
  • Initiate the appropriate notification system
  • Continue to update the ISU community during the emergency

Methods of Communication

ISU has several systems in place for communicating emergency information to members of the ISU community. Any or all of the following methods of emergency notification may be used depending on the type and nature of the emergency:

  • ISU Alert
  • Voice-enhanced siren system
  • University web site
  • Emergency telephone voice recording
  • Public address systems
  • Personal communication
  • Signage

ISU Alert: ISU Alert is an electronic system for quickly delivering emergency messages to Iowa State University students, faculty and staff. Notifications will be sent via landline phones, cell phones, text messages and e-mail. Messages will be brief, include basic information and provide instructions on how to obtain more details. The ISU Alert system will be used only for emergencies that pose an immediate danger to the university community. Examples may include, but are not limited to:

  • Bomb threats or other imminent violent threats
  • Fires, natural gas leaks and hazardous spills affecting the entire campus
  • Building evacuations and lock downs affecting the entire campus
  • Biological or pandemic emergency notifications
  • Natural disasters
  • Power outages and utility failures resulting in an imminent threat
  • Campus closure due to declared civil emergency

ISU Alert Contact Information on AccessPlus: All members of the Iowa State University community are encouraged to keep their ISU Alert contact information up to date. Edits can be completed using AccessPlus. Instructions for updating ISU Alert information can be found on the ISU Alert website (see Resources below).

Users should keep in mind that their ISU Alert information is separate from information participants enter in the Emergency Contact Database. Information in the Emergency Contact Database is used by authorized personnel to contact loved ones or next of kin in the event the participant is missing or otherwise unable to contact others herself or himself.

Voice-enhanced siren system: The university has five strategically placed warning sirens on the campus to alert the campus community to a dangerous condition. The system permits voice broadcasts to communicate any necessary emergency information to the community.

University web site: Updated information following a message notifying the campus of an emergency will be found on the university website, available for the university and general communities and media outlets, if warranted. In cases of extreme emergency, the university has the ability to replace the regular website with a website designed for emergency communications only. Regular website functionality can be obtained from a link on the emergency website.

Emergency telephone voice recording: The telephone number 515-294-5000 contains a recorded message that provides general information to listeners in the event of an emergency.

Public address systems: Specific areas and buildings on campus have public address systems which can be used in the case of an emergency to disseminate information. In addition, ISU Police vehicles are equipped with public address systems which can be used in specific emergencies.

Personal communication: Individual departments and units are encouraged to maintain a variety of forms of personal communication, including phone trees and email lists that can be accessed if needed.

Signage: A variety of signage may be created to help provide direction in the event of an emergency. Each building on campus is assigned a building supervisor, who may be asked to assist in the case of an emergency. Building supervisors can create signage to provide information and direction to members of our campus community. Occupants of buildings are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the nearest evacuation route.


All emergency communications methods are tested on at least an annual basis, according to standards as appropriate.


Each building on campus has a designated evacuation plan in the event of an emergency that would require such action. These plans are posted on each floor of each building and can be accessed online. Other than fire alarms, ISU Police are responsible for determining if the emergency or dangerous situation is such that a building evacuation is necessary and if so, notifying the occupants of the building or buildings of the decision to evacuate.

Policy Awareness

The university will link to this policy electronically through websites designed to convey emergency or law enforcement information such as the ISU Annual Security Report.