IRM-013: Issuance of an Emergency Notification

Date: 11/16/2007 Status: Final
Last Revised: 09/10/2018
Policy Type: University
Oversight Executive: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs
Applies To:

Academic Division, the Medical Center, and University-Related Foundations.

Reason for Policy:

The University has implemented a multi-layered emergency notification system for immediately notifying the University community upon confirmation of an emergency or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of its students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors occurring on University Grounds or surrounding areas. Additionally, this complies with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistic Act (20 U.S.C. § 1092(f) (“Clery Act”).

Definition of Terms in Statement:
  • Dangerous Situation:

    An incident or condition that may not pose an immediate threat to life or safety, but where timely information or instructions may directly affect the well-being of the recipient or require timely action.

  • Emergency:

    A “high risk” occurrence, expected or unexpected, that threatens the health or safety of the University’s students, faculty, or staff and requires immediate action.

  • Emergency Notification:

    An announcement triggered by a significant emergency event or dangerous situation involving an immediate threat to the health or safety of the University’s faculty, staff, employees, students, patients, or visitors on University Grounds. This expands upon the definition of “Timely Warning” to include both Clery Act crimes and other types of emergencies or events that pose an imminent threat to the campus community.

  • Emergency Notification System:

    A mechanism established for the purpose of and dedicated to enabling University officials to quickly contact or send messages to faculty, staff, employees and students in the event of an emergency. Examples include but are not limited to, fire alarms, sirens, UVA alerts via email/text message, local TV/Radio, etc.

  • University Grounds (based on Clery Act definition):

    The areas where administrative functions, teaching, and research facilities of the University that are used by members of the University community are located as well as athletic and recreational facilities. This includes (i) any building or property owned or controlled by the University within the same reasonably contiguous geographic area and used by the institution in direct support of, or in a manner related to, the institution’s educational purposes, including residence halls; and (ii) any building or property that is within or reasonably contiguous to the area described in clause (i) that is owned by the University but controlled by another person, is frequently used by students, and supports institutional purposes, such as a food or other retail vendor.

Policy Statement:

In the event that an emergency or dangerous situation occurs on University Grounds which constitutes an immediate threat to or may directly affect the health or safety of the University community, the University will issue an emergency notification without delay, unless issuing a notification will compromise efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to, or otherwise mitigate the emergency.

  1. Confirming the Existence of an Emergency or Dangerous Situation and Initiating the Emergency Notification System:
    University Police (“UPD”) or other University first responders may become aware of a critical incident or other emergency that potentially affects the health or safety of the University community. Generally, University first responders become aware of these situations through reports to the emergency dispatch center or during routine patrol or other assignments, including the 911 Center and the UVA Contact Center.

    Once first responders confirm that there is an emergency or dangerous situation that poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of some or all members of the University community, first responders will notify supervisors in UPD or other authorized University officials to issue an emergency notification.

    If, in the professional judgment of first responders, issuing a notification potentially compromises efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to, or otherwise mitigate the emergency, the University may elect to delay issuing an emergency notification. As soon as the condition that may compromise response or mitigation efforts is no longer present, the University will issue the emergency notification to the University community.

    The following personnel at University separate campus locations have the authority to confirm a threat and initiate an emergency notification:



    Architecture in Italy: Venice

    On-site Program Director, Lead Program Faculty Member, or designee

    Mountain Lake Biological Station

    Director, Associate Director, Station Manager, Facilities Manager, or designee

    Newport News Center

    Academic Outreach Manager, or designee

    Northern Virginia Center

    Director of Facility Operations, or designee

    Richmond Center

    Academic Services Manager, or designee

  2. Determining the Appropriate Segment(s) of the University Community to Receive an Emergency Notification:
    Police or local first responders on the scene of an emergency or dangerous situation will assist those preparing the emergency notification with determining what segment(s) of the University community should receive the notification. Generally, University community members in the immediate area of the dangerous situation (i.e., the building, adjacent buildings, or surrounding area) will receive the emergency notification first. The University will continue to assess the situation and may issue subsequent notifications to a wider group of community members. In addition to the emergency notification that may be issued via the University emergency notification system, the University will post applicable messages about the emergency or dangerous situation on the Office of Safety and Emergency Preparedness homepage, to alert the rest of the University community to the situation and relay the steps that should be taken to maintain personal and community safety. If the emergency affects a significant portion of the University Grounds, authorized University officials will distribute the notification to the University community.

  3. Determining the Contents of the Emergency Notification:
    The office responsible for issuing the emergency notification (usually UPD) will, in concert with University representatives of the Critical Incident Management Team and local first responders, determine the contents of the notification. The University has developed a wide range of template messages addressing several types of emergencies. The individual authorizing the alert will select the template message most appropriate to the ongoing situation and modify it to address the specifics of the incident. In those cases where there are no predetermined template messages in the system, the individual authorizing the alert will develop a succinct message to convey the appropriate information to the community. The goal is to notify individuals of the situation and the steps to take to safeguard personal and community safety. Messages are typically composed of predetermined text that requires minor modification (e.g., address).

    When circumstance requires a custom message, the following authorized University officials create message content: Associate Vice President for Safety and Security; Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; Director and Assistant Director of the Office of Safety and Emergency Preparedness; command staff personnel of the University Police Department; the UPD shift commander; or a UPD services clerk when they receive a notice of natural forces emergency such as a tornado or earthquake on the weather radio, teletype, computer, or other authoritative source.

  4. Compliance with Policy:
    Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination and expulsion in accordance with relevant University policies.

    Questions about this policy should be directed to the Office of Safety & Emergency Preparedness.

  1. Procedures Used to Notify the Community:
    In the event a situation poses an immediate threat to members of the University community, the University has various systems in place for communicating information quickly. University personnel may activate some or all of these methods of communication in the event emergency notification for all or a segment of the University community is needed.

    The University delivers emergency notifications through intentional redundant messaging via:




    How to Subscribe

    UVA Alerts*

    UVA Alerts is an opt-in service that notifies registered users via text message (and email, if desired) when the University population faces imminent threat from a hazard.


    Text messaging, UVA Alerts Email

     Requires a UVA computing ID.

    Register at

    Students, faculty, and staff are eligible to register. Registered users can maintain up to two mobile numbers for SMS and up to six email addresses.

    Emergency Email System

    Mandatory system which sends an email to all users with an address, including in the Health System.

    UVA Emergency Email System


    Alertus Desktop*

    User-installed software which generates a pop-up alert when computers are turned on and connected to the UVA server. 

    Computer screens

    Pre-installed on University owned computers.

    Install at



    Emergency information and official updates are posted at the UVA Emergency Page.

    Initial alerts are also sent to the University’s homepage.



    RSS Feeds

    Provide direct feed/interruption of digital signage across Grounds.

    LED clocks, LCD displays


    PA/Siren System

    Outdoor public address/siren system activated for extremely time-sensitive emergencies (tornado, active shooter).

    PA/Siren System


       *Requires registration

  2. Procedures for Disseminating Emergency Information to the Larger Community:
    During critical incidents, emergencies, or dangerous situation, University Communications will work with the Critical Incident Management Team and each organizational unit, as necessary, to gather accurate and substantial information regarding the situation and details of the University’s response. The University’s public information officer, working with city and county public information officers as appropriate, will provide information to the public on progress toward resolution, utilizing one or several of the following methods: radio, television, newspaper, social media, and Web sites. The University, at its discretion and if allowed by the outside notifying agency, may release information concerning an emergency or dangerous situation occurring off of University Grounds if it poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of faculty, staff, and/or students off of University Grounds.

  3. Test of the Emergency Notification System:
    The University will test the emergency response and evacuation procedures on at least an annual basis, including tests that may be announced or unannounced; publicizing its emergency response and evacuation procedures in conjunction with at least one test per calendar year; and documenting for each test, a description of the exercise, the date, time and whether it was announced or unannounced.

Additional Procedures:
Critical Incident Management Plan
Report a University Student Living in University Housing Missing
UVa Alerts Sign-up

Related Information:

HRM-032: Disruption of Normal University Operations Resulting from Weather or Emergency Events
IRM-018: Issuance of a Timely Warning
SEC-035: Clery Act Compliance
STU-003: Missing Student Notifications for Students Residing in on-Grounds Housing
Alert Notification Methods at UVA-WISE

Major Category: Information Resource Management
Category Cross Reference: Safety, Security and Environmental Quality
Next Scheduled Review: 09/07/2020
Approved by, Date: Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, 11/16/2007
Revision History: Revised 9/10/18; Updated 10/12/17 (Contact Ofc & Oversight Exec); 5/15/14, 4/11/11.
Supersedes (previous policy):
IRM-013, Mass Text Messaging for Emergency Alerts