GARDEN CITY, Kansas – Garden City Community College experienced two separate storm warnings last year where tornado sirens were going off and no on could hear them.
“If the wind was high or storm conditions were just very severe that you could not hear the other sirens that were nearby in the city,” said Tori Dreyer, Director of Public Relations.
At any given time there are as many as 1,500 students on the GCCC campus, plus faculty and staff.
“We just couldn’t have that. It would have caused the loss of lives of student and faculty, or cause injuries,” Dreyer said.
So the college bought a siren and worked with the city to have it installed. The campus siren will be activated by dispatch just like the other 26 sirens in Finney County. It has a tone measured at 460 Hertz, which means the sound doesn’t fade as much as other sirens and it can travel farther.
“Before you’d have to go around to each and every building to make sure people are aware,” said Campus safety officer Travis Montgomery. “Now you can pretty much be anywhere on campus and you can hear it.”
The siren signals students and faculty outside to get to shelter, and to find the latest information on the storm from TV or radio.
Students and staff say the addition is reassuring.
“We have places we can go, but it’s nice to actually hear it and that way we know we need to get where we need to go,” said Matthew Hubbard, a GCCC employee.
But remember, while effective sirens are a great asset, people shouldn’t fully rely on them.
The college, and community, have access to a free Civic Alert that sends timely warnings straight to subscribers.
“They’re not going to ignore it and they’re going to take it to heart this is an actual event happening,” said Finney County Emergency Management Director Gilbert Valerio.
The college is also installing a radio system inside each building so that campus police can better communicate between buildings during an emergency situation.