Emergency Notification Systems and Crisis Communication – Blog

Implementing an Emergency Response & Action Plan at a Corporate Campus

Frank McCathran By Frank McCathran

Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower,” meaning in order to create something or do something that’s never been done before, you have to be willing to go where no one has gone before. That’s what leading is all about. So it is no surprise that many of our clients are innovators in their respective industries. They’re often doing what no competitor is doing, and that’s what sets them apart. The same is true for their approach to emergency notification.


For an emergency manager, a complex campus environment is a complicated one to manage. In addition to the large span of land, typically there’s a considerable population of people working a variety of shifts, away from workstations, traveling between buildings. Says one of our clients of a large enterprise, “There are definitely more variables here than the average corporate campus, therefore our emergency notification and response system must have incredible flexibility, as well as comprehensive coverage, and lightning speed, to meet all of our needs.” Traditional emergency response systems are generally very limiting. They either send an emergency notification by email blast to a particular site, or they use a PA System that works off the fire alarm system. The problem some clients have found with this type of system is it misses a lot of people who are typically away from their desks.

 

Timing is also a serious issue. Through market analysis, for those who use less-than a robust system, it takes 10 to 15 minutes and two rounds of communication through an email blast and PA system to reach every area on campus — even with templated information. Most crises, whether a tornado, an explosion, or an act of violence, start and finish in about that time frame, so the first few seconds are the most critical. Large corporate campus emergency managers need a solution that does more in less time with one-touch freedom and reliability.

 

Success is contingent upon careful planning and collaboration with other business units. The best outcomes occur when the emergency manager assembles a team to assist with testing and implementing the new solution.

 

One client pre-loaded the database of users with employees, then they promoted self-registration throughout the campus for others. His constituents saw the value of the new system almost immediately when it had its first test during a snowstorm.  Their emergency response solution enabled employees to receive a message on their mobile phone, and the emergency manager felt at ease knowing no one would have to brave the storm and risk being hurt on their way in because they forgot to check the website. Some organizations need their people separated into unique groups. For campus-wide emergencies, like the closure due to snow, smaller groups can be created for certain buildings and even certain building services. One client has a group called “Emergency Response Team” and another called “HVAC Team,” which enables him to send very targeted and specific communications and directions to smaller groups.

 

Critical events require much more than an alert, that’s why many organizations are looking for a tool that allows them to send more than just an email and text message. With ScenariosⓇ, you can align your emergency response and action plan with your mass notification system to make sure you plan for every emergency possible. What once took 10-15 minutes with varying success, organizations can now do reliably with Omnilert — in a mere 10-15 seconds, to targeted groups. One client shared that when the campus had a power outage, he couldn’t get onto the network, but he was able to send his team a rally notification from his Apple Watch while he was away from his desk dealing directly with the issue.

 

Most emergency managers know that a growing threat to corporate campuses is that of an active shooter. One client recently orchestrated an active shooter drill. First, they promoted the drill to increase campus awareness. This achieved two goals:

  1. 1. It alerted staff of the opportunity to participate and it assured those that heard sounds and saw activity, that it was only a drill.

  2. 2. Next, they gave a presentation about how the drill would be conducted.

Participants who attended learned how the drill would unfold, and instructions on whether to run, hide, or fight. During the drill, an attack by an active shooter was simulated, replete with a piercing whistle blown each time to signify a gunshot. When the first shot happened, the manager initiated the Scenario from his iPhone and all around the room, employee phones began to chirp. But not all of them. Only the phones of campus personnel that had signed up to receive alerts received the message. The impact was profound. The training is very effective: every time they do the active shooter drill, more users register for alerts.

 

There is usually less than one minute to get a notification with guidance to employees. A reliable notification system that can execute that fast is critical. Omnilert gets the message out, with proper guidance, to all the appropriate groups in seconds — all in alignment with your emergency response and action plan.

 

To learn more about how other corporate organizations are using innovation to ensure their people’s safety read the case study below.

 

 

Read the Case Study


Active Shooter Emergency Preparedness Guide - During

No organization wants to think about the day that an emergency might happen at their facilities, especially an active shooter crisis, but it is something that each organization must prepare. Not only is mass emergency preparation a legal obligation, but most would argue that it is a moral one. You want to keep your people informed and out of harm’s way. If there’s an emergency, people expect to be notified and provided the guidance to remain safe. There are many alerts that we have grown accustomed to receiving such as weather alerts, Amber or Silver Alerts, or even local emergency alerts. So, if there’s an active shooter emergency in the vicinity, people expect to be alerted in a similar fashion.

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Severe weather can happen at any time. Depending on the season and your location, weather threats can range from thunderstorms and tornadic activity to hurricanes, Nor’easters, or even a wintry mix. Having emergency communication plans and an automated method of distributing said communications in place helps ensure you and the people you are responsible for are kept safe and informed during severe weather season - no matter which season.

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Off-Campus Timely Warnings - An Explanation

Of all the requirements of the Jeanne Clery Act college and university communities most frequently associate it with the timely warning. As an original part of the 1990 law timely warnings have fundamentally changed how students and employees learn about campus crime in a way that is now firmly enshrined in their cultures as it is what they most frequently see.

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