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Adapting to the storm: Perspectives on hurricane response from county, university, and military leaders

Complete a full-scale operational test of an emergency notification system

Tell, Teach, Involve

Training and Learning Techniques for Emergency Notification and Incident Notification Personnel


“Tell me and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Benjamin Franklin


Testing your emergency notification system regularly ensures you’re ready to respond in a crisis. Both small and full-scale tests of your ENS are critical, and they can help you avoid system failure and prepare for the worst-case scenario.


In the case study, “Developing and Testing an Emergency Notification System for a County Emergency Management Agency” by David Edwards and Danny Peterson from Arizona State University and Holly Cuthbertson, California Department of Public Health, a county-wide flood exercise was used to test an emergency notification system. The test was coordinated with various organizations and agencies, and the objectives included fostering relationships with other agencies and jurisdictions. Today, that may be referred to as creating the “network effect”, which impacts community response in a crisis.


After action reporting based on recipient reaction and analyzed system result reports


Analysis and correction activities are important during small and full-scale tests. In fact, a full-scale drill is the closest you will get to “the real thing” – to avoid system failure, make the most of this opportunity. Use all of the resources at your disposal so you can optimize your emergency notification system in a critical situation.


There are several questions you should consider when completing after action reports. What were the experiences of each stakeholder group? How comfortable were system users with the ENS? Were SMS and pager messages received, and what was your confirmation rate for notifications? Were words cut off, and did the text-to-speech option work? Conduct an in-depth analysis after a full-scale operational test to ensure an ENS meets your organization’s needs.


The final consideration should be ongoing tests and exercises. Some large sites have monthly tests completed by different teams, along with a wide variety of scenarios and at least one full operational test annually. How frequently tests and exercises are completed may vary depending on your organization.


Get your organization ready for a large-scale incident – complete a full-scale operational test of an emergency notification system.

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