Campus stays safe during bomb scare

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Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 12:00 am

Called-in bomb threat likely to be hoax after each residence hall ruled safe

There have been no additional threats or clues uncovered after an on-campus bomb threat occurred Thursday night.

The threat occurred after 7 p.m. when a voicemail message said an explosive device had been placed in an unidentified residence hall. Resident assistants worked to evacuate students from each residence hall and led them to the Memorial Union and the Valley Library until authorities cleared the halls for re-entry.

Mike Bamberger, emergency preparedness manager at OSU, said the campus electronic alert system logs when the event started, the amount of time it takes to send alert messages and the delivery success rate.

Around 76,000 emails and around 3,500 text messages were sent out in six minutes, Bamberger said. In addition, 10,000 subscribers received phone messages. 

“Anybody can subscribe to it, whether they belong to OSU or not,” Bamberger said.

However, the voicemail procedures for subscribers, which takes an average of 15 seconds per call, took around 44 minutes to fully deliver.

In any situation, Bamberger said the university evaluates whether or not the event requires a mass emergency response. For instance, the reported minor gas leak Saturday did not prompt a mass relay.

“We didn’t send out an OSU alert because it did not impact the larger population,” Bamberger said.

Overuse of the alert system in non-threatening situations could increase the potential of individuals on campus ignoring messages, Bamberger said.

To rule out the potential threat Thursday, OSU officials called in assistance from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State troopers and the Corvallis Police Department. Law enforcement officials teamed up with resident directors of each hall to see whether an item or area looked suspicious. 

Together, they explored only public areas of the halls.

“They did not go into dormitory rooms,” Bamberger said.

Only full-time OSU employees and resident directors are permitted to help authorities with the search. Both students and resident assistants must be evacuated.

Once the threat’s ruled out, students are allowed back into the halls. Bamberger said the overall effort went smoothly and the vast majority of students evacuated with no holdups or concerns.

“It helped that we didn’t have to pool resources away from the search to deal with other issues that could have occurred,” Bamberger said.

Anyone with information regarding the threat is encouraged to call the Department of Public Safety at 541-737-3010.

Sean Bassinger

Higher education reporter

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