Catoosa Readies For Emergencies: Installing Mass Alert System, Warning Sirens

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - by Mike O'Neal

Better communications result in better responses and results, particularly during times of crisis or disaster. That is why Catoosa County government is spending more than $19,000 to establish an account with Everbridge, an international leader in providing emergency and mass notification services.

 

Everbridge will provide official warnings and alerts, within seconds of their being issued, at no charge to any local subscriber, according to Clarence Muse, deputy director of the local Emergency Management Agency.

 

There is no cost for any individual, business or agency to sign up for the service, he said.

 

Mr. Muse said nearly every communication device—including mobile phones, landlines, smartphones, email, text messaging, instant messaging, pagers, computers, fax machines and even an electronic billboards or road sign — is capable of instantaneously receiving notifications.

 

Alerts can be triggered by a 911 dispatch operator, an on-site incident commander or an authorized outside entity, such as the National Weather Service, and can be either broadcast generally or to specific areas.

 

“It can be a real warning from eyes on the ground,” Commission Chairman Keith Greene said during the Tuesday commission meeting.

 

The Everbridge system’s abilities recently were shown immediately following the Boston Marathon bombing. That city regularly uses the software communication network to warn of impending storms or as reminders about road closures and detours.

 

But following those two finish line blasts, Everbridge was used to call for help, to direct emergency personnel and as a way for the public to check on one another. By day’s end, hundreds of thousands of messages had been sent and received, according to company reports.

 

The software bypassed overloaded cell towers by using land-based phone lines and Wi-Fi signals to send alerts to phones, e-mail addresses, pagers, faxes — even electronic billboards and road signs.

 

Catoosa County’s software will be identical, with the primary mission of providing severe weather warnings and emergency information, and could have shown its worth when cells of tornadoes, including one that struck Ringgold, swept the Southeast in April 2011.

 

Costs associated with this initial year’s service will cost the county nothing, according to Catoosa EMA director Steve Quinn.

 

A total of $13,250 in Federal and State emergency management agency grants will cover about 75 percent, an additional 10 percent state grant and funds donated to the Salvation Army following the April 27 tornado will cover the remainder, he said.

 

Since Everbridge is a software program, operated from redundant centers nationwide, its local implementation will be strictly dependent on who signs up to receive its messages or alerts, Mr. Muse said.

 

Now that the county commissioners have approved the contract, Mr. Muse said information about how to register with Everbridge should be made public, possibly before the end of the month.

 

In addition to a software solution to warn of emergencies, the county will also apply federal, state and local funds to install about $52,000 of hardware that could help save lives in time of danger.

 

A Hazard Mitigation Grant for Warning Sirens will be used to install two old-school “air raid” sirens, one at Lakeview Middle School and another at Ringgold High School, to provide high decibel warnings.

 

“FEMA has suggested that sirens and mass alert systems be used together,” Mr. Muse said.

 

moneal2480@comcast.net


Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news. Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like us on Facebook ... (click for more)

Boyfriend Charged In Murder Of Katrina Holloway Claims She Shot Herself

The boyfriend charged with the murder of 42-year-old Katrina Holloway claims she shot herself.   However, police said the version by Reginald Oakley, 43, was not consistent with evidence at the scene.   Chattanooga Police responded to a person shot at 1:30 a.m. Thursday at the 1200 block of Cypress Street Court. Upon arrival, officers located the victim, who ... (click for more)

Do Something To Protect Our Children

It is unconscionable in this day and age that these children had to exist in such deplorable conditions and that an innocent baby suffered and died alone in a locked car.  Yes, there is blame and accountability considering this family had child neglect charges filed a few years ago (that were apparently dropped and expunged) and a large part of the responsibility should ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: School Board Shoves Back

The Hamilton County School Board, told that ‘no’ was not an option three months ago when state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen arrived to take over five floundering public schools, may have to ask the Governor to call out the Tennessee Guard. A very vocal School Board shoved a bitter ultimatum right back into McQueen’s lap during a work session Thursday night and showed it ... (click for more)

Lookouts Take Second Straight At Mobile Thursday With 4-1 Win

MOBILE, Ala.  -- Nick Gordon scored on a wild pitch in the first inning, leading the Chattanooga Lookouts to a 4-1 win over the Mobile BayBears on Thursday. Gordon scored on the play in the first to give the Lookouts a 1-0 lead after he led off the inning with a single, stole second and then went to third on a groundout. With the score tied 1-1 in the second, the Lookouts ... (click for more)

Katie Tingle Named Covenant Women's Basketball Assistant

The Covenant women's basketball program has announced the hiring of Katie Tingle as the full-time assistant coach for head coach Sarah Harris. Tingle replaces Kiaira Cooper, who recently left the program for an administrative position at Houghton College.  "I am so thankful to director of athletics Tim Sceggel and head coach Sarah Harris for this opportunity to ... (click for more)