Health & Safety

May 31, 2013

Preparing to survive: Emergency communications

Robert Kaschak
452 AMW Emergency Management technician

Over the past several weeks, the various stages of earthquake preparation were provided as go-bys for the Team March family. While it is deemed as one of the region’s major concerns, many more naturally-occurring phenomena in southern California require attention, if members are to be fully prepared.

As summer officially rolls in with the Memorial Day holiday, the threat of severe weather becomes a part of everyday reality. Mountainous and desert landscapes, paired with arid temperatures, aid in producing inversion layers that cap pollution, causing it to linger, resulting in less-than healthy air quality. Planners and responders are constantly preparing for ways to counter the effects, but first must implement innovative ways to raise awareness through alerting the population of impending dangers that surround them.

On-base Communication options:

Installation Warning and Notification System – connected to the Emergency Broadcast system, which can be activated in a national emergency. In addition, March utilizes the Giant Voice to alert base personnel of unusual or catastrophic events. However, a major earthquake may render this system dysfunctional.

Ad Hoc System – a computer-generated message that notifies personnel of changes. The message will be displayed on the computer monitor for a specified time period. Depending on the situation, the message may be sent to a home phone, cell phone or emergency contacts. This system may be inoperable in the event of a major earthquake.

Off-base Communication options:

Emergency Alerts – Public safety officials use these systems to alert you and your family in the event of natural or man-made disasters – transmitted in easily accessible manner (smart phone, radio, television). Many communities also offer emergency alert notifications through their own systems. Check with your state or local government to learn what is available in your area.

Wireless Emergency Alerts – a service that allows alerting authorities to use Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Open Platform to send geographically targeted text-like alerts to the public via their cell phones and other mobile devices. Public safety officials use WEA to send essential information such as imminent and dangerous local situations, severe weather events, or AMBER emergency (Child Abduction Emergency).

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio – a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from a nearby National Weather Service office, to specially configured NOAA weather radio receivers. If available in your area, consider purchasing a NOAA weather radio receiver. It receives official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information, 24-hours a day and 7-days a week.

Having the knowledge and information on what is available and how it functions will be a tremendous benefit when passing or receiving information in a disastrous situation and may be the drive to guide responsible decisions – Facebook and Twitter are mainstream platforms for instant communication.

Take the time to get informed now before a crisis occurs. Do it for yourself and your family. It is all part of the preparation process that we undertake to ensure our safety and welfare to survive and recover from any type of an event.

For more information on any of the above systems, access the Federal Emergency Management Agency website or contact your local chamber of commerce or local government agencies.




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