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Buckeye Alert for public safety dispatchers mistakenly sent to Ohio State Columbus campus

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An Ohio State Buckeye Alert message intended for Department of Public Safety dispatchers accidentally went out to a portion of the OSU Columbus campus Wednesday morning.

A call stating that overtime was available from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. was sent to an unknown portion of the Buckeye Alert subscriber list at about 11:40 a.m. before it was able to be canceled.

“One of the public safety dispatchers erroneously disseminated a message which was intended for (the Department of Public Safety) internal dispatcher purposes only,” said OSU spokesman Gary Lewis in an email.

Lewis said 1,600 text messages were sent out, and a “percentage of the client list” received a voicemail message, but not everyone got the call.

“The entire Columbus campus did not receive the notification because the error was caught almost immediately and we stopped the message,” Lewis said. “But the system is set up to send messages very quickly, so some did go out.”

The crossover between the dispatcher communications and Buckeye Alert was possible because of how the system works, Lewis said.

“Buckeye Alert is part of a larger communications system that is set up to allow us to segment its use for a variety of communications types and audiences,” Lewis said.

A text from Buckeye Alert was sent out at about 11:45 a.m. that said, “A message meant for our Police officers was inadvertently sent to the entire OSU Columbus campus via the Buckeye Alert system. No emergency exists.”

A tweet from OSU Emergency Management, @OSU_EMFP, said the call was “for our 9-1-1 dispatchers. We had someone call off ill.”

The reason the exact number of those who received the call was unavailable is because of the size of the subscriber list, Lewis said.

“There are a significantly large number of clients on the Buckeye Alert service so we realize that an unknown percentage of them received the voicemail message,” Lewis said in an email.

No information about the dispatcher who called in sick was available because OSU does not disclose medical information about its staff, Lewis said.

Some OSU students seemed more perplexed than worried about the messages.

“I was confused,” said Michael Mullen, a fourth-year in film studies. “But if overtime’s available, I’m willing to take it.”

Others dismissed the message altogether.

“I didn’t think it was really a big deal,” said Ryan Green, a fifth-year in political science.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: July 17, 2013
An earlier version of this story and its headline stated that the Buckeye Alert message was intended for police officers. In fact, it was meant to be sent to Department of Public Safety dispatchers. 

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