Troy University, Pike Co. EMA to team for new emergency system

Published 7:56 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A new emergency text messaging system is on its way to Pike County as part of a joint venture between the Pike County Emergency Management Agency and Troy University.

The two are in the process of finalizing a contract with In Stadium Solutions to provide a system that will allow attendees of events to text any issues they may have to a central control center at that event.

“If you go to a lot of professional sport stadiums or some of your larger SEC schools, you’ll see this program where if someone is having a problem in the stadium, whether it be with their seat or a medical emergency or an unruly fan, you can text a short code and it will send a message to a central control center we’ll have set up,” said Herbert Reeves, Dean of Student Services at Troy University. “From there, someone can be dispatched to help with the problem without having to ever leave their seat to find assistance.”

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Once the system is set up, signs will be in place at the events at which it will be used. Those signs will direct users on how to use the system for any emergencies they might have.

While Reeves said the system is largely in place at major sport venues, he said the Pike County version of the system would not be exclusive to sporting events.

“It can be used at a lot of community events as well, and that’s kind of the beauty of it,” Reeves said. “This is a very versatile system, and it could be used at things like TroyFest, for example, if someone had lost a child, then the first responders would be able to get a description of the child from that message.”

The system will have many uses throughout the county, according to EMA Director Jeanna Barnes.

“Related events such as the Peanut Butter Festival, Troy-Fest, sporting events, planned events and disasters will be able to benefit from its use,” Barnes said.

The system will also provide the people of Pike County with an alternative means of emergency communication in case cell phone service is low.

“Any additional communication is always an asset to our citizens,” Barnes said.

“Not every system is perfect, and we understand that during a disaster there may be cell towers down or too much traffic, creating difficulty in getting messages through. However, even if you can barely get a signal, you can send a text message. You have to have a far better signal to actually speak to someone and understand the communication among parties. This system will give us another tool of communication and provide the

resources to better manage an event.

Reeves said he hopes to launch the system publicly at the first home Troy University football game, which is set for Sept. 4 against Bowling Green.