MADISON (WKOW) -- Emergency alerts and social media played a big part in the flow of information during an incident on UW-Madison campus Wednesday evening.
UW Police say they sent out five alerts via email and text."WISC alerts are reserved for high end emergency, threatening situations, a situation in which we have an ongoing threat on campus in which we need to alert students, staff and faculty about what's going on first off and what they need to do about it," UW Police Spokesman Marc Lovicott says.
He says the department was able to reach 92,000 accounts via email but the number of text alerts that went out was much smaller because you have to sign up. He says that will change next year, when he says students and faculty will instead have to opt out.
"It's a fantastic tool for us to reach out to our entire campus community in an emergency situation just like this," Lovicott says.
One student tells 27 News the first alert Wednesday, which hold her there were shots fired and a suspect last scene in heading in her direction, was more scary than helpful. "We had no idea what was going on and the text said, it's headed for the Memorial Union, which is where I was, so we didn't really know what to do," senior Valerie Grayson says.
"That may be all we know at that point and we want to get that information out immediately and that's why we sent these follow ups," Lovicott says in response.
While those alerts were issued as the situation developed, he says they were also monitoring social media.
"People were putting rumors out there, or maybe they heard something from somebody else, they heard something on the scanner, and they throw that on Twitter. Thankfully, we have staff here that can monitor that and we can get information out there," Lovicott says. He adds that a national media organization incorrectly reported that there was an active shooter on campus.
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