Stephen Houck, director of the Mississippi Center for Emergency Services, with the Alert U logo.
Stephen Houck, director of the Mississippi Center for Emergency Services, with the Alert U logo.
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Alert U upgrades at UMMC aimed at beefing up personal safety

Published on Monday, July 10, 2023

By: Danny Barrett Jr., dlbarrett@umc.edu

Photos By: Jay Ferchaud/ UMMC Communications

Personal safety at UMMC is at a premium for employees such as Riazeil Stewart, who commutes to work in Mississippi’s largest urban center.

He’s among the army of employees, students and others who walk daily to and from Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium’s expansive parking lots. Security improved earlier this year for those who make that trek each day, but the arrival of more technology to protect and inform in the event of all types of campus emergencies has put Stewart’s mind at ease.

Portrait of Riazeil Stewart

“Sometimes, the idea of walking to the stadium parking lot can be nerve-wracking,” said Stewart, of Hazlehurst, a manager of clinical engineering at UMMC. 

Enhancements made to Alert U, the medical center’s emergency notification system, went into effect July 1. The updated system expands capabilities to send emergency text messages to employees, students, families and visitors.

All who sign up will receive text alerts for severe weather or personal safety emergencies on the Jackson main campus. And in the event of certain types of emergencies, a new feature allows employees and students to instantly contact and share their location with the UMMC Police and Public Safety Department via the Everbridge mobile safety app.

Portrait of Josh Bromen

“With the deployment of the reimagined Alert U and Everbridge's mobile safety app, a new era of safety and preparedness begins,” said UMMC Deputy Police Chief Josh Bromen. “Empowering our community with instant communication, real-time updates, and rapid response capabilities, this technology ensures that no one is ever alone in times of crisis.”

For timely alerts, full instructions and access to personal safety features and more information on the new system, visit the Alert U website.  

Patients, families and visitors can sign up temporarily to receive UMMC safety alerts by texting ALERTU to 333111. They’ll will receive notifications until the end of each month, when they can renew it by simply texting the number again.

That level of connectivity with loved ones when incidents not necessarily on campus – but perhaps close enough to heighten fears – hit today’s various forms of personal media.

Portrait of Laura King

“I like the way you can link your family contacts to it,” said Laura King, a clinical nurse educator and employee at Children’s of Mississippi, who can now use the app to essentially mark herself safe in an emergency to family and friends while she can still communicate with co-workers. “It also automatically records 2 minutes’ worth of conversation if you make an emergency call.”

For Stewart, the added layers of tracking and security keep the stress out when it comes to his own work day.

“The weather alerts help me be more aware of how my day-to-day commute will go,” he said. “Also, the check-in and location-sharing feature is great to have. I feel safer because the app allows me to leave a trail of my whereabouts while walking to my car.”