EMA pitches Smart-911

Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Pike County EMA requested $15,000 from the Pike County Commission this week to fund a mass-notification system that could send emergency alerts to every cell phone in Pike County within the range of a cell tower.

Barnes said that the county would not pay the full $15,000 cost because discounts would bring the cost down to $6,500. Barnes also said that the City of Troy could help to provide funds for the program.

“In recent years, FEMA has required emergency managers to utilize a whole community approach,” said Jeanna Barnes, director of the Pike County EMA.

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The EMA currently utilizes sirens, social media and media outlets to make the public aware of emergency events. Although Barnes said that social media has provided much good for the agency over recent years, a mass-notification system is the one thing that is missing from the plan.

“The missing component in this whole community approach is a mass notification system,” Barnes said. “If we are able to add this component to our current toolbox, we will be able to reach thousands more citizens with vital emergency notifications in an extremely rapid manner.”

The system would allow residents to sign up for the free service and choose how they would like to receive notifications and share whatever information they wanted with the EMA that may be of importance during an emergency.

Barnes gave the example at the commission meeting of someone who is electric-dependent. This would allow that person to let the EMA know beforehand, so that they could be aware of the danger to that individual in the case of a power outage.

“My main objective in all the planning, training, exercise and public awareness efforts is to create a resilient community during any disaster,” Barnes said. “Every emergency is a local event. It is vital that we put the needed time in on the good days in order to manage the bad days.”