Pacific Lutheran University has received a $15,000 grant from Puget Sound Energy Foundation to increase the school’s capacity to respond to the campus community and the public during emergencies and natural disasters.

In Phase One of the project, PLU will install eight electronic help station interior devices on campus this summer in its largest buildings. These devices will act as “call for help” boxes, as well as speakers to announce emergency messages inside the facilities. Several also will be wired to external speakers that will allow campus officials to send messages to students, staff and guests outdoors.

The new system is equipped with command-center software that includes a mapping component: When a help station is activated, it automatically will appear on a map at the Campus Safety command center to indicate which device was activated.

PLU plans to add additional interior devices and outdoor speakers across campus in coming years. This PSE Foundation grant represents 20 percent of the $88,000 Phase One project budget; the bulk of the financing will come from university capital funds.

The university's Parkland-based campus is an active participant in the Disaster Mitigation Planning process coordinated by Pierce County's Emergency Management Division. Under current Memoranda of Understanding with the American Red Cross-Mount Rainier Chapter and with Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, Olson Auditorium and the PLU campus are designated sheltering sites.

PLU also has agreed to make university facilities available for Command and Control Centers in the event of emergencies and natural disasters; the new highly functional notification/public-address system will be critical to serving disaster victims who are sheltering at PLU.