Whether you live in a region that’s prone to natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes, or severe weather like summer flash flooding or winter blizzards, community teams are vital for supporting residents as quickly as possible in an emergency. However, many community teams rely on outdated methods like phone trees or even going door-to-door to alert members to an emergency. Here’s how to use digital communication systems to activate community teams in an emergency.
You Can Collect The Right Information
It’s hard to communicate with your Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) at any time if you don’t have their information. This is especially important for digital communications systems as they rely on information like cellphone numbers and email addresses to connect with members on the go, before and during an emergency. Make sure you collect as much information as you can for each team member, and connect them with your communication system if that’s an option.
You Can Keep Information Current
Keep team member information up-to-date regularly. Email addresses might stay the same indefinitely, but phone numbers tend to change more often. Whether you collect in person or electronically, remind team members (both established and new), of the importance of keeping their information up to date so that you know you can reach them quickly when you activate community teams.
You Can Use Multiple Forms of Contact
Cellphone numbers are useful for two forms of communication – phone calls (of course!) and text messages. If you have the opportunity, ask team members to verify their phone number so that they can receive text messages. Most communication tools will require this before sending out those kinds of messages, and it provides you with another way to contact team members.
Email is equally important with so many people carrying smartphones these days. Did you know that, in an emergency, the internet is the most reliable form of communication? It also frees up phone lines for 9-1-1 emergency services so that first responders can help the residents that need it the most.
When you have a member’s complete contact information, you can be confident that you’ll connect with them as soon as you need them.
You Can Provide Information During An Emergency
As soon as an emergency happens, activating a CERT requires efficiency and sharing information is key to helping members respond as quickly as possible. It’s also important to be able to share information while they’re responding to an emergency when things are likely to change quickly. For example, if an earthquake happens in a coastal zone, team members may already be out in the community when a tsunami warning is issued – updating them digitally means they can adjust to evacuation protocols immediately.
You Can Get Real-Time Updates
In addition to text messaging, many communication systems offer two-way communication between team members, which allows them to respond with specific information or answers to questions. For example, if you have an emergency that only requires a subset of the team, you can use the system to send out a message to ask about availability and how quickly they can respond. This form of communication can also be used to gather feedback from the team on progress or even their own safety.
Communication systems are an effective, efficient way to get emergency teams activated in any kind of emergency. As an added resource, check out our other article, Why Emergency Preparedness Is Critical For Your Community.
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