Campus Emergency Phones and Communication Systems

If you have an emergency on campus, help can be summoned using a variety of security and emergency phones. These are available on the UW Seattle Campus and can put you directly in touch with University Police. They will respond directly or call upon other emergency services, such as Seattle Fire and Medic One, if needed.

Outdoor Phones

Blue Towers (AKA Outdoor Alert System)

The most common emergency phones are the blue Talk-a-Phone towers. These phones can also broadcast emergency messages on campus; they are part of the UW's outdoor alert system. These towers are located throughout campus. Look for the phone graphic symbol on the UW campus map.

The emergency phone is very simple to use; simply press the button and the University Police will be dialed automatically. A blue flashing light will illuminate to help indicate your location and that immediate help is needed.

Other Emergency Phones

Other emergency phones are available to the public that have a very different appearance. Most of these phones are located in campus parking garages and are set up to automatically dial the University police.

Indoor Phones and Communication Systems

Elevators and Areas of Refuge

Many buildings are equipped with two-way communications systems that communicate directly with University police. These phones are provided in most elevator cars and in areas of refuge in stairways in new buildings. The primary purpose of these phones is to communicate that the elevator has failed and you are trapped or that you have reported to an area of refuge in a building during a building emergency or alarm activation. These phones are very simple to activate and use.

Indoor Alert System

The University's indoor alert system is to notify building occupants of emergencies on campus. This is designed to supplement the UW Alert System, which provides text messages to registered phones (click here to learn more about the UW Alert System and register your portable device). This is another means to reach as much of the campus population as possible. Messages will either be audible or visual.

Audible messages originating from the University Police or the UW Crisis Communications team will be broadcast through fire alarm speakers in most major buildings. First responders (fire and police) will have the ability to over-ride recorded messages with building specific instructions if necessary.

Text reader boards and associated horns are provided in many smaller buildings to alert occupants. In these buildings, a horn will sound and a strobe will flash indicating an alert has been received; the sign beneath the horn/strobe that gives the location of the nearest reader board. The information provided through the reader board is limited. More information about the incident is often available on the UW website and through textual messaging.

Emergency Room Locking

Also being installed in a small number of buildings on campus are emergency door locking devices. These can instantly lock all doors leading into a space in the event of a violent situation. To activate, simply lift the cover and push the big red button. This will send a signal to UWPD and they will respond to the location. The cover has a local anti-tamper alarm (similar to a door alarm), but this is not transmitted beyond the location, so you still need to push the button even if you hear the alarm. The doors to the space are locked from the outside, but you can still exit the room.