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Use a mass notification system for evacuations

I have the system ready to go. I have data loaded. We’ve already made some pretty good calls on it, admittedly, some better than others. But I want to drive use and get full value from this powerful tool…


As a front line Account Executive in this industry for over 10 years, I am exposed to people who share their unique mass notification system uses with me, and I thought it would be a good idea to share some of these unique ways to apply your notification system to common challenges. In this series, I will provide both the basic way most people “blast out” a message, and an alternate set of processes to help you fine tune your communications. By fine tuning your messages, you will get more situational intelligence, apply your resources in an effective manner, and set the groundwork for your next set of messages as an event progresses.


How to evacuate a neighborhood or school


The way most people evacuate a neighborhood or school is to send an evacuation notice, informing people they need to go. For instance, staff and students were recently evacuated from Barrows Elementary School in Reading, Massachusetts after they were told to leave the school as a precaution due to high carbon monoxide readings. Parents were notified about the evacuation as well, thanks in part to a mass notification system.


The evacuation process 2.0 is a bit more involved. But with a tremendous amount of coordination, it can simplify evacuations for your organization.


This process typically involves the following steps:


1. Take control of the evacuation. Sort our your Access and Functional Needs (AFN) population and identify those who are homebound. Send them a polling notification asking whether they can evacuate on their own (press 1), or if they need assistance (press 2). By completing this step, you have just done more for your AFN population than 99% of people using their notification systems.


2. Get additional assistance from your Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Load just your CERT trained people in the area you are preparing to evacuate into your system. Let them know their assistance is going to be needed, and to contact their local CERT coordinator right away.


3. Send a general evacuation message. Now, you are ready to send your general evacuation message. Continue to send messages as the event progresses, and send out an all-clear message when the situation is under control.


In addition, with a little forethought, you can create these messages in advance as ready-to-go templates in your message library.


Make the most of your mass notification system – use this system to manage communications throughout an evacuation.

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