Editorial: UK 911 system unacceptable

What if UK were Virginia Tech on Thursday?

By chance on Monday, the Kernel found that university phones have a 12-second delay when calling 911. The Kernel also found the university’s 911 system was partially down on Monday because water had leaked on equipment.

If an emergency were to happen on campus, like the shooter at VT on Thursday, a 12-second delay when calling 911 or a downed 911 system could honestly be the difference between life and death.

It is unacceptable for a university of any size, and especially one the size of UK, to have a 911 system that fails.

What would happen if it were to fail when it was most needed? If a shooter were loose in a building, how many people could be injured or killed during those 12 seconds?

These are not pleasant questions, but they are ones everyone on this campus should be asking.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said of the 500 UK buildings, which includes those not in Lexington, more than 90 have approved building emergency action plans in place. Fifty more have plans that are awaiting approval, and roughly 200 others do not require a plan.

Each building has a chief operating officer, the person who is the head of the building, who appoints someone to be coordinator of the action plan to the regular occupants of that building, Blanton said. The coordinator is the liaison with the emergency responders, should something occur.

But how many students, professors, administrators and staff know what to do if something like this happened? What should they do? What do the plans say?

Blanton said progress has been made, but there’s still more progress to go.

As for the delay when calling 911, UK has said the delay has been reduced from 12 seconds to seven.

But how are those on UK’s campus supposed to know their calls to 911 are delayed? Shouldn’t it be the responsibility of the university to notify campus that a delay exists?

These questions need answers. A lax attitude on safety creates an environment where disaster can happen.