Safety During an Emergency or Crisis: What Parents Need to Know

As a parent, feeling confident in the safety of your child at the University they attend is extremely important. The following document provides a general overview of what actions may occur in the event of an emergency or crisis and what you as a parent can expect.

Safety Profile of Western Illinois University:

WIU Office of Public Safety (OPS):

The ILEAP Accredited Office of Public Safety (OPS) is a full-service police department with 21 sworn police officers providing various services to the campus community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These services include police services, security for special events, alarm monitoring, and educational programming. OPS also staffs its own dispatch center for campus. OPS also houses Parking Services which monitors parking permits/lots and provides vehicle unlocks, jump starts, and tire inflation for those on campus. More information about OPS can be found at wiu.edu/ops or by calling 309-298-1949.

Beu Health Center:

Beu Health Center is a full-service medical clinic offering quality outpatient health care, student health insurance, and health education and wellness education to registered Western Illinois University students.

Macomb Police Department (1.1 miles from campus):

The department provides 24-hour coverage to the community and is made up of 25 sworn officers, a K-9, and five civilian support personnel. The support personnel and two divisions – Patrol and Investigations – work together to ensure the public receives the highest quality of comprehensive services possible.

McDonough County Sheriff’s Department (1.1 miles from campus):

Provides 24-hour coverage to not only Macomb, but the surrounding county region. Has support units of K-9, Investigations, and Strategic Response Team (SRT). Illinois State Police District 14 (.5 miles from campus): Provides 24-hour coverage for the Macomb and McDonough County Region.

McDonough District Hospital (2.4 miles from campus):

MDH is a 48-bed health care facility providing an impressive spectrum of advanced medical treatments and personalized health services.

Macomb Fire Department (1.4 miles from campus):

The Macomb Fire Department provides fire protection within the City of Macomb and contracted fire protection to properties in the four townships surrounding the city. All members of the department are licensed EMTs providing Basic Life Support, Emergency Medical Services.

Safety within the Residence Halls at Western Illinois University

The residence halls at Western Illinois University have a variety of different safety and security measures implemented to help reduce risks or prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from a crisis situation. Measures include:

  • All residence hall rooms are outfitted with sprinklers
  • Smoke detectors in every room
  • Advanced building annunciation system, which allows the Office of Public Safety (OPS) to address each building or floor
  • Student Patrol walking escort service
  • Keyed elevators allowing individuals who reside on that floor only to have access
  • Call boxes located outside residence halls and throughout campus
  • Automated external defibrillator (AED) in each building
  • Floor phones that allow local calls in the event of an emergency or crisis
  • Extended hour Information Desk staffing
  • Provides Western EMS with onsite location for easy access to residence hall locations

What's the University’s plan in a crisis or emergency?

Western Illinois University is prepared to handle a variety of situations with a systematic emergency operation plan in place to reduce risks or prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from a crisis situation. These may range from a death or accident affecting an individual member of the campus community to a natural disaster or crisis affecting a large number of individuals.

The University has outlined guidance for a comprehensive variety of emergency situations, as well as the Campus Emergency Operations Plan available for review at wiu.edu/rmep or by scanning the QR Code.

Emergency Response Situations:


Used to move students and staff out of a campus building. During an evacuation, all individuals within the building leave and move to a nearby location (usually a parking lot of large area out of the way of emergency vehicles) and return to the building after the cause of evacuation is resolved. Western Illinois University On-Campus Housing practices evacuations during fire drills (1 unannounced per semester).


Used to move students and staff to a pre-designated alternate site following evacuation when it is determined that returning to the campus building impacted will not take place within a reasonable period of time. Depending on the time of day/night and the circumstances, students may be provided alternative housing arrangements as determined by University administration.


Used during severe weather. This is a precaution aimed to keep people safe while remaining indoors. In the residence halls, shelter-in-place involves having all individuals take shelter in pre-selected rooms or areas, such as stairwells, bathrooms, etc.


Used when there is a perceived danger inside the building.A lockdown includes securing each occupied room by locking the door(s) and directing people to move away from windows and doors. Hallways are cleared of students and school staff. Typically, law enforcement arrives to secure the site and arrange for evacuation or return to usual building activities. Students are directed to remain in their rooms or other secured areas until the lockdown has ended.

How are emergencies at Western Illinois University communicated?

Western Emergency Alert System (WEAS):

During critical emergencies that have an imminent threat to an individual’s safety or dictated by law, the WIU Emergency Alert System (WEAS) will be activated to send voice, text, and e-mail messages to students, employees, and select area agencies when an emergency situation threatens their safety.

How Do Parents Get Access to WEAS?

Due to the way that WEAS connects with your child’s records, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) law protects their rights and thus the parent access must be set-up by the student. To do this, have your student log into their STARS account. Once logged in, the student should navigate to the “Emergency Alert Notification Update” screen. Students are able to add up to seven phone numbers and four email addresses, which will then enable those individuals to receive the same emergency notifications that students receive. For more information regarding the Western Emergency Alert System, please visit wiu.edu/rmep.

Western Illinois University Webpage:

In critical situations after an alert has been provided or in non-life-threatening situations where a major disruption has occurred impacting the campus community, the Western Illinois University webpage www.wiu.edu will always have the most up to date information posted on it. Guardians and students should not contact the office of public safety during these incidents, so that phone lines can remain open. Additionally, they should refrain from coming to campus until they read that it is appropriate with direction on where to go.

Public Information Officer:

Some emergencies will warrant a public announcement and in these cases a University Official may deliver updates via press conference or interview.

University Housing and Dining Services:

In non-life-threatening situations where there is a disruption to an on-campus residential community, communication may come from University Housing and Dining Services to the student directly. This will usually be in the form of an email; however, individual floor communications may be delivered via text or social media platforms at the direction of the Resident Advisor (RA) or hall staff personnel. In these cases, unless the impact affects a large number of residents beyond one particular hall involved, information is not posted on the WIU webpage.

Helping your student cope after a crisis

It is important to talk with your student and to provide emotional support in the aftermath of a crisis situation. The University has several resources available to assist students as they cope following a traumatic event. These resources include the Student Development and Success Center, University Counseling Center, Beu Health Center, as well as a variety of off-campus resources.