Higher Education Act — Safety and Security

Emergency Response

Webster University's Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) establishes policies, procedures and organizational structures and roles essential for Webster University to respond to, and recover from, crisis and emergency situations that threaten lives, property, public health and the safety of faculty, staff, students and visitors in any location controlled, leased, or owned by Webster University.

When a serious incident occurs that causes an immediate threat to the campus, the first responders to the scene are usually Webster University Public Safety officer and personnel from the Webster Groves Police Department and Webster Groves Fire Department. These responders typically work together to manage the incident. Depending on the nature of the incident, other departments within Webster University and other local or federal emergency response agencies could also be involved in the response.

Pursuant to the Clery Act

Webster University publicizes its emergency response and evacuation procedures annually in accordance by blast email to all “webster.edu” email addresses, in conjunction with at least one test per calendar year. Additional crisis response materials can also be found on students, faculty, and staff’s Connections home page on the right hand side of the home screen of the Connections home page after you have logged into your account.  All Housing and Residential Life staff including student employees are trained annually on the emergency procedures specific to on campus student housing facilities, and general information on what to do in case of an emergency in student housing.

Webster University conducts a variety of tests of its emergency plans and evacuation policies and procedures: including: regularly scheduled drills, exercises, and appropriate follow-through activities, designed for assessment and evaluation of emergency plans and capabilities. These tests, which may be announced or unannounced, are designed to assess and evaluate the emergency plans and capabilities of the institution. The purpose of exercises is to test the knowledge/skills of the participants.

Additional information on Emergency Response and Tests of the Emergency Response/Evacuation Procedures can be found in the University's Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports.

It is the University’s policy to immediately issue an Emergency Notification any time the Director of Public Safety confirms that there is a significant emergency or dangerous situation which poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of students, faculty or staff occurring on the campus, unless issuing a notification will, in the professional judgment of responsible authorities, compromise efforts to assist a victim or to contain, respond to, or otherwise mitigate the emergency.  Examples of situations which would require an Emergency Notification include, but are not limited to: an active shooter on campus, serious inclement weather such as a tornado, or a serious spill of hazardous materials.

Emergency Notifications are issued using Webster University’s Webster Alerts system powered by Rave Alert™, a global leader in higher education emergency notification.  The University may also use Webster Alerts to communicate unexpected school closures due to inclement weather or power outages from time to time; however, it is never used to send information regarding advertising or campus activities.  Students, faculty and staff are automatically enrolled in the Webster Alerts system; however, their account initially only lists their webster.edu email address, and they are only signed up to receive alerts for the campus(es) they attend classes at or are employed at.  Students, faculty and staff cannot opt out of receiving communications at their webster.edu email address related to certain crimes or emergencies which may affect their campus(es). 

The University strongly encourages students, faculty and staff to also add additional contact information such as personal email addresses and mobile numbers to their Webster Alerts account.  Individuals are provided an opportunity to add up to three personal email addresses and three mobile numbers to their account.  This also allows account holders to add other individuals such as parents or guardians to their account if they wish.  Other individuals who are interested in signing up for a Webster Alerts account can request an account by contacting the Director of Public Safety, Rick Gerger at 314-246-8708 or rickgerger06@webster.edu.  Instructions for accessing Webster Alerts accounts is provided in new student, faculty and staff orientation materials.  Account holders can always edit their current contact information and campus preferences at any time simply by logging onto Connections and clicking on the Webster Alerts banner.

Additional information on Emergency Notifications can be found in the University's Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports.

Any time the University determines that an evacuation is necessary, the specific evacuation procedure would be affected by a myriad of factors, including the type of threat, the occupancy of the other buildings and areas of the campus at the time of the incident, etc.  Students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus community are expected to follow the instructions of any first responders from DPS or local law enforcement agencies on the scene. These first responders may instruct you to evacuate the building you are inside of, or shelter in place.  You may be instructed to shelter in place if circumstances dictate that evacuation outside the building/area is not advisable. These situations include, but are not limited to, tornadoes, severe weather and chemical attack.

At the sound of a fire alarm or if you are instructed to evacuate, leave your work area immediately and proceed to the nearest exit, and leave the building. If you are the first to recognize a fire situation, activate the alarm, evacuate to a safe location using the nearest exit, and notify the Department of Public Safety at 314-968-6911 or dial 911.

Additional information on Emergency Evacuation Procedures can be found in the University's Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports.

Anyone who observes fire or smoke inside any Webster University facilities should take the following steps:

  1. Immediately go to the nearest fire alarm pull station and activate the fire alarm, if it is possible to do so safely. 
  2. Extinguish the fire only if you can do so safely and quickly. 
  3. Immediately contact the Department of Public Safety at the emergency number (X 6911 from an internal phone) or 314-968-6911

Anytime Webster University students, staff, faculty and guests hear a fire alarm, they must evacuate the building immediately using the nearest stairwell and/or exit. The Department of Public Safety strongly encourages all members of the campus community to familiarize themselves with the exits in each building.  Most buildings on campus are equipped with automatic fire detection and alarm systems in addition to other fire safety systems such as sprinklers and fire extinguishers.  Misuse of the fire alarm and protection equipment (which includes fire alarms and fire extinguishers) constitutes a serious threat to the safety of the occupants of a building and is prohibited. Any activity involving tampering with fire alarms or firefighting equipment, unauthorized use of such equipment, failure to evacuate during a fire alarm, hindering the evacuation of other occupants, or hindering authorized emergency personnel is prohibited, and will result in severe disciplinary action, including possible dismissal from Webster University along with possible criminal prosecution.  Criminal prosecution may subject the violator to fines, imprisonment, or both.  Civil action to recover the costs associated with damage resulting from the unauthorized use of firefighting equipment may also be initiated.

The Department of Public Safety publishes additional information about fire safety systems and statistical information about reported fires for on-campus housing facilities in Webster University's Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports in compliance with the Clery Act. A Daily Fire Log is also publicly available 24 hours a day at the Department of Public Safety located at 572 Garden Avenue. The Daily Fire Log includes basic information about fires that occur in on-campus student housing facilities — reported fires are entered into the Log within two business days.

 Additional information on Fire Safety can be found in the University's Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports.

Webster University understands the importance of educating the campus community about security awareness and crime prevention. The Department of Public Safety works collaboratively with other departments on campus throughout the year on educational programming and campaigns.

Additional information on Security Awareness & Crime Prevention can be found in the University's Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports.

If a member of the University community has reason to believe that a student is missing, regardless of whether the student resides in an on campus student housing facility, he or she should immediately notify the Department of Public Safety at 314-968-7430. DPS will generate a missing person report and initiate an investigation.  Any missing student reports received by other departments or officials at the University must be immediately referred to DPS.  DPS will work closely with the Dean of Students Office (and Housing and Residential Life staff if the student resides in an on campus student facility); however, DPS will lead the investigation.

Additional information on the University's procedures for responding to reports of missing students can be found in the University's Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports.