At a recent city council meeting in the eastern USA, city executives were quizzed as to why the emergency alerting system was not activated when law enforcement was searching for two dangerous fugitives being sought in the area.
The mayor and public safety director responded that it was the responsibility of the police department to issue such an alert. If the police thought the public was in danger, then they would have issued an alert.
The council member who originally asked the question was not satisfied with this answer. And, ironically, the city officials being questioned were unsure why they were even being asked.
Consistency and Coordination
The situation described above illustrates a fundamental challenge facing any organization using networked crisis communications software like AtHoc Alert, or any other form of emergency notification. The system cannot work unless it is activated when appropriate. It will likely not be used if the conditions for use are not clearly understood by everyone who might have responsibility for public safety and security in a specific geographical area.
With that in mind, here are five guidelines to help ensure that an emergency alerting system will be used for its intended purpose and leveraged to the greatest advantage.
- All managers and first responders within a community or geographical area who have responsibility for public safety and security must be connected to the system – even if their organization is not the one that owns and operates the alerting application.
- Everyone connected to the alerting system should be briefed on his or her responsibilities should an emergency arise in the community, including the conditions under which someone external to the organization operating the system can trigger an alert.
- The system should be automated whenever possible, so that communities do not lose critical minutes discussing necessity, severity, responsibility, and command structure when rapid response is urgently needed.
- These policies need to be distributed to all users and stakeholders, so that entities such as city councils, city executives, and administrators understand the conditions under which the system should and should not be activated.
- Regular and unexpected training drills should be conducted so that all participants see how the system operates and experience it in a realistic simulation. The goal should be to give stakeholders an understanding of what to expect during a real emergency, and a clear indicator of areas where individuals, organizations, and the system itself can be improved over time.
Best Practices and Templates
Even the best technologies rely on the human element to be effective, and networked crisis communications systems are no different. Fortunately, AtHoc has helped hundreds of organizations learn how to use their emergency alerting applications more effectively.
We provide best-practices templates and our years of experience to help any organization streamline its emergency operations and operate as a collaborative, unified command structure during any crisis.
Let AtHoc help you use your investment in emergency response more effectively, on both the human and the technological level.
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