Health & Safety

August 9, 2012

During emergencies, FH can provide mass warnings, notifications

Story by Natalie Lakosil
Staff Writer

Mass warning and notification systems play an important role on military installations.

A variety of systems are available to notify and warn the post population during an emergency. Fort Huachuca has multiple systems to maximize the potential for reaching all personnel, said Emergency Manager, Stephen McCann, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

“It is important to be able to broadcast to the [Fort Huachuca] population of any pending emergency situations where they need to take immediate actions,” said McCann.

There are two important terms used throughout the emergency management community, and those are ‘warnings’ and ‘watch.’

A ‘warning’ is a hazardous event already occurring or imminent. Take immediate protective action. An example McCann gave for a warning is the example of an active shooter event or any other situation that is rapidly unfolding. The broadcast would begin: “The garrison commander has issued the following warning for those who live, work or are visiting Fort Huachuca. Take …”

A ‘watch’ is when conditions are favorable for a hazard to develop or move in. Stay alert. If emergency personnel know there is a weather front coming through that would generate a lot of rain, which could potentially cause flash flooding or other hazards, there are several systems in place that could warn installation personnel over the network to take necessary precautions, according to McCann.

The notifying systems range from marquees with scrolling messages to computer or smart phone notifications.

The marquees on Fort Huachuca are computerized, so messages can easily be updated via computer to provide warnings.

Fort Huachuca also has a system called, “Giant Voice,” a term used to describe the speaker system installed throughout Fort Huachuca facilities that also includes interior speakers or sirens. There are 15 towers that have powerful speakers and can broadcast messages for the installation population to take some sort of action such as sheltering-in-place or to be advised of a particular event.

Another system that provides notifications is the Communicator NXT, used for recall of the crisis action team members, or to quickly distribute information.

Additionally, another system used by Fort Huachuca officials is NetNotify™. NetNotify™ turns any networked personal computer, laptop or other similar device into an effective and reliable channel for critical and routine communication such as emergency notifications or public service announcements to a vast population. Government employees are able to receive pop-ups on their home computer as well as their personnel smart phones as email or short-message systems.

“Those are basically the methods we use to notify the [Fort Huachuca] population,” McCann said of the different notification systems.

A program that the U.S. Army has to help people prepare for an emergency is Ready Army, http://www.acsim.army.mil/readyarmy. Ready Army seeks to inform the Army community of all hazards and to provide targeted preparedness information to Soldiers, their Families, civilians and contractors worldwide. The website provides an array of short information sheets on different types of hazards, how to make a plan and how to be prepared for an emergency.

“We strive to be prepared for all types of emergencies on Fort Huachuca,” McCann said. “That’s what the Ready Army program is about; you need to make a kit, make a plan and be informed.”

“Most events will be no-or short-notice, so you have to be prepared. Be aware of your surroundings and be informed. When moving to a new area, ask the Emergency Management Office about the threats in this local area and what resources are available to help you plan. If you use the three tenets, then you should be able to respond accordingly to any type of event,” he added.

“Make sure to involve all members of the family in the planning process.”

If a mass power outage were to occur, for example, the fort has emergency generators to allow emergency management personnel to enable them to still provide alerts.

For additional information contact McCann, 533.0070 or stephen.mccann.civ@mail.mil.




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