Communication and information are essential tools in getting people to safety and minimizing the impacts of emergency situations. The reliability, speed, and accuracy of information are vital components in determining the effectiveness of communications. Crises like an unplanned outage, active shooter, or inclement weather all require the dissemination of accurate information at a moment’s notice. The success of your emergency response depends heavily on your preparation. If you have planned correctly, the execution of your response will be quick with minimal chance for error.
Even with today’s technology allowing for so many ways to communicate, text and email are still the most common forms of emergency communication since they are a regular part of our everyday lives. We have been trained as a culture to get in the habit of checking text and email, no matter where we are or what time it is. The daily presence of text and email in our lives, our inbox checking habits, and device compatibility make these forms of communication key tools in disseminating information during a crisis. As a result, businesses tend to rely on these forms of communication. They have become the lifeblood of corporate communication.
We often get the question, “Where do I get started with pre-scripted templates or ready-to-go Scenarios?” Using templates in your mass notification system gives you the ability to have a message ready to send without having to improvise on the fly. Scenarios help you to communicate rapidly in more complex critical situations. They help you send specific alerts and actions to multiple unique groups of people or endpoints. Thus ensuring the notification has the appropriate message for each group. You’re even able to send these alerts through multiple channels of communication using multimodality - or as we call it Omnimodality.
The place to start is with your emergency response and action plan. Although we all have similar concerns (weather, delays, outages, workplace violence), everyone’s communication and response requirements are different. Every organization is different, has different infrastructure, different populations, and different emergencies. There is no “one-size fits all”. Due to these differences, so much will need to be customized that it’s more productive to start with what you’ve already documented in your emergency action and response plan - the one that is specific to your organization. If you don’t, there is also the danger of missing a critical detail that could cause the alert to be confusing or inaccurate.
Instead, look at your own environment, your people, what their responsibilities are, and what the risks are. Who needs to be alerted and how should they be contacted? What channels of communication should you use to ensure you reach as many people at your organization as possible?
If you’re attempting to notify someone in the field, then a simple text message and/or phone call may be the best way. When notifying an employee on a factory floor, then perhaps a digital sign or PA System broadcast are better modes of communication. To ensure you reach as many individuals at your organization, no matter where they might be, using an Omnimodal approach is always recommended. This way you reach as many people as possible using a variety of different communication methods.
Be sure to reference your organization’s emergency response and action plan - you know, that binder on the shelf. A lot of this planning may already be done. Use your Omnilert Account Manager to help you map your plans to your Omnilert Scenarios and Templates.
You must also take into consideration the internal decision process that needs to take place before initiating the emergency alert. Who will be responsible for sending which alerts and what is their availability to initiate?
To get started you need to ask yourself some questions. Some or all of the answers may be in your organization’s emergency response and action plan.
- What is the situation? What is the risk?
- Who needs to be alerted? Who needs to be “activated”?
- Based on their environment and responsibilities, how should they be alerted?
- What do they need to know?
As you build out and enhance your communication plan using Omnilert, start with simple templates. Then look at the big picture. Which of those templates should become Scenarios? These will most often end up being most critical or complex situations; the events where safety and well being are most at risk; and the ones that need the fastest and most clear, accurate, and reliable response.