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Mass Notification Systems (MNS) in Disaster Planning

Emergency managers are experiencing a “sense of urgency” about the importance of including mass notification systems in professional disaster plans.

A mass notification system is a means of delivering a message to a large set of recipients. The complexity of the system is often dependent on the type of message that must be sent. For example, a mass email might be sufficient to alert employees about a drill, whereas notifying individuals when a building is on fire would require real-time interaction, escalation, scheduling, rosters and fail-over scenarios. One such mass notification system is the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

Homeland Security describes the system like this: “The EAS is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas.”

At a recent international security system conference, emergency manager, Mike Madden, explained the sense of urgency about creating mass notification systems of all kinds: “I think we are beginning to see a trend towards MNS spreading to larger corporate campuses and large manufacturing facilities because of the very nature of these large complexes and violence in the workplace. People are looking at more options to protect their employees.”

Incidents like the bombing of the Khobar Towers in 1996 and the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 moved the concept and importance of mass notification to the forefront for government as well as secondary education. As a result, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are adopting mass notification systems for hospitals and clinics around the country. What’s more, large defense contractors like Boeing are starting to explore the need for bring mass notification for military bases.

Part of the reason for interest in the systems is a basic cost benefit analysis for business owners who realize that, in an emergency, a mass notification system can get everyone to rapidly assemble at the onset of a disaster and quickly return to work stations following emergencies. And time is money.

Peter Ebersold, director of marketing for Notifier/Honeywell Fire Group said that, post September 11, most people expect mass notification to be employed. And at airports, that’s probably true. However, such is not always the case. In fact, a host of public transportation stations and large commercial buildings have no such system in place.

Fortunately, the RJWestmore Training System features a fully-integrated messaging system, which allows all users to instantly communicate with tenant managers or occupants in any property, without the necessity of leaving the RJWestmore Training System. While logged in, users can easily send mass messages which are delivered to everyone located in one or multiple properties, simply by clicking “all,” or targeting particular groups. So subscribers of the RJWestmore Training System don’t have to invest in cost-prohibitive free-standing notification systems for their commercial properties.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJWestmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. What’s more, the NEW RJWestmore Property Messaging System is included FREE for all RJWestmore Online Training System users. Visit www.RJWestmore.com for more information.

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