If Eastern Illinois University campus and community residents hear emergency sirens sounding on campus on Friday, Feb. 20, they should react accordingly.
It won't be part of the drill.
University officials have announced that a portion of the institution's staff will be participating in an active shooter training exercise that may also include involvement by emergency personnel from the city of Charleston, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center and other law enforcement entities.
It should be made clear, however, that the drill will not include the actual use of any of the campus's emergency sirens, Web-based/e-mailed emergency announcements or text-messaging systems.
"It is important that there be no confusion in case a real emergency occurs," said Dan Nadler, vice president for student affairs. "We want to keep these methods of communication open for the use with which they are intended.
"If the sirens are sounded -- or if students and staff members receive an Alert EIU text message -- the community should know that a real threat is imminent," Nadler said.
Many details of the training exercise are being kept confidential for obvious reasons. Officials have announced, though, that a portion of Buzzard Hall in and around the building's auditorium (first and second floors) will be closed until noon to all students, faculty and staff.
Classes/operations scheduled to take place elsewhere in the building will not be affected; however, students and faculty may need to enter the building via doors outside their custom.
"We are sensitive to the fact that classes will be in session and we will do our best to minimize any disruptions," Nadler said.
Activities associated with the drill may also involve other areas of campus, including Health Service and sections of the MLK Jr. Union. The campus community is likely to see additional emergency vehicles at EIU, as well.
Nadler emphasized that all activities associated with the drill will be treated as a real active shooter emergency. And that, he added, means observation by non-participants will be discouraged.
Illinois law mandates that universities stage at least one emergency drill annually. However, Eastern has participated in emergency preparedness exercises regularly for several years. The most recent occurred in 2008, when university and city representatives gathered for a table-top exercise examining Eastern and the city of Charleston 's response to a tornado touching down in the area.