Crisis Management Team Implements Toll-Free Emergency Phone Number

Phillips Academy has implemented a toll-free telephone number to provide uninterrupted access for parents during emergencies. The number will be used when a high volume of calls overloads the local telephone service. The Crisis Management Team recommended the system after they conducted a review of emergency response procedures and resources when parents were unable to get through to the school on September 11, 2001. The new number will be able to handle thousands of simultaneous calls, reducing the possibility that callers will receive a busy signal during national and campus emergency situations. The number will only be used when normal telephone service is interrupted and will be updated with messages from the Crisis Management Team. All families were notified about the new system this summer via the Parent Handbook. The packet included information stickers with the emergency number in addition to the numbers of house counselors, cluster deans, and Public Safety. On September 11, the campus telephone system was overwhelmed with incoming calls, and people were upset by repeated busy signals. Director of Communications Sharon Britton wrote in an e-mail, “In an emergency, it can be quite frustrating and worrisome for parents not to be able to get through to anyone at the school.” She continued, “In an emergency, we can put a message on the 877 number that lets parents know what’s going on on campus.” “This is obviously not a substitute for full-fledged telephone service, but will be reassuring and informative if callers can’t get through otherwise. We would relay whatever information might be helpful to parents or other people trying to get through to the Academy in an emergency.” The telephone number will be used in addition to the website, which also carries emergency information as long as the Internet is operational.