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At 1:15 p.m. Friday, the Division of Public Safety learned that a boxcar had caught fire on the railway above 31st and Walnut streets, and a tanker containing chlorine had fallen off the tracks - causing potential chlorine release and forcing the area's residents to shelter in-place.

Luckily, it was just a simulation.

As part of an emergency-readiness campaign, the Division of Public Safety launched a shelter-in-place drill for all University Housing occupants.

This is the third year that shelter-in-place drills have been done, but this is the first time the drill has involved all College Houses at one time.

Eugene Janda, chief of Fire and Emergency Services for DPS, said the drill was implemented to test and evaluate the UPenn Alert system.

"Our primary objective is to communicate the concepts," Janda said.

The drill was short - 10 minutes - so that students would be more willing to participate and less inconvenienced, he said.

Deputy Chief of Tactical and Emergency Readiness Michael Fink said shelter-in-place drills are used in a situation with toxic materials in the air, or in the event of a mass evacuation in the Philadelphia area.

"There's a small probability of something like this happening, but it's always good to know what to do," Janda added.

At 1:58 p.m., DPS sent out UPenn Alert messages. In a real situation, 52,000 people would be contacted, DPS officials said. For the simulation, only 6,000 people - residents of on-campus housing - were.

These students received an e-mail, followed by a pre-recorded phone call and a text message explaining the situation.

When a UPennAlert is issued, 215-573-3333 is the number that appears on caller identification.

Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush urges people to save this number in their phones as "Penn Pub Safe" so they will make sure to pick it up if they ever see it calling them.

"If you're sitting in class and your phone starts buzzing and you look down and see 'Penn Pub Safe,' you know it's a UPennAlert," Rush said. "We'll never surprise you; if we're doing a test, we'll always warn you there's going to be a test. If we don't warn you, it's real."

People were only asked to participate in the drill if they were in a residential building at the time. The drill lasted 10 minutes, giving people seven minutes to get into their shelter-in-place areas. At 2:08 p.m. DPS sent out notification that the drill was over.

There was no way to check how many students actually sheltered, but every building reported that some people came down to the shelter.

DPS officials said a few problems were immediately noticeable, with 0.7 percent of text messages bouncing back.

One group at a low-rise residential hall was let out of the shelter before receiving a text that said the drill was over.

"It's a new concept, it'll take some time for people to get it," Janda said.

He stressed the importance of knowing what to do in these situations.

"The entire Penn community is going to go throughout the world," he said. "They can take these concepts with them."

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