We all know that communication is critical in preparing, managing and successfully resolving any kind of crisis. This is especially the case during a Hurricane like Florence and Michael. Whether you have PunchAlert for your organization, are considering it, or using some other product, this post is intended to highlight the many ways a safety communications platform can be helpful before, during, and after a Hurricane. I will also emphasize how you, as an individual, can benefit from downloading the PunchAlert app for yourself and using it with your family and community to stay safe. So here we go:
— BEFORE —
For Your Organization
1. Create as much awareness as possible so people can get properly prepared. So use the Announcement module from the mobile app or web console (if you are an Announcement Admin) to send out announcements to all your employees, customers, students, parents, or general public about how your organization is preparing for the storm.
2. Leverage every channel: 1) Push notifications, 2) SMS, 3) Email, 4) Calls, 5) Social Media, 6) Website Widget, and other integrations to reach your audience wherever they are.
3. Remind folks to download PunchAlert and Follow your Organization (if they aren’t already a private member or public follower) to get your announcements and receive all the other benefits of the app during and after the storm (see below)
4. Make it a 2-way conversation by enabling comments so your target audience can post responses or questions through the PunchAlert app. Far too often mass notifications are sent, but then questions have no way of getting answered.
5. Keep sending announcements to remind people how to prepare for the storm, what to expect on your campus, when your organization will be open or closed, and anything else that might be helpful. You cannot over-communicate before a Hurricane, so now is the time to reach out.
For Yourself, Your Family and Community
1. Make sure you have the app downloaded, with 911+ enabled. Add your friends and family as emergency contacts so they can be notified if you call 911 including your exact location.
2. Explore all the organizations in your area that have PunchAlert communities and Follow them so you can get the updates you need.
3. Post Tips to an organization or publicly to be helpful to your surrounding your community. This can include notifying folks where gasoline, water, flashlights, or other supplies are available or out of stock.
— DURING —
For Your Organization
1. Press the red button to report an Emergency if you are on your organization’s property during the storm and conditions become very dangerous.
2. Use 911+ to call 911 and simultaneously alert your organization’s responders. Keep in mind that often during a storm 911 operators become overwhelmed with calls.
3. Notify official responders by escalating the emergency if your internal responders are unable to provide the necessary help. This is only available in certain cities, for example, in Charlotte, NC this would notify their Real-time Crime Center of your emergency (if they’ve agreed to monitor your organization). This would provide them with a real-time view to your location on property including 2-way communication capabilities.
4. Notify other groups within your organization or the general public of the emergency to then send mass emergency updates and crowdsource information throughout the emergency.
5. Monitor PunchAlert for Tips or Emergencies posted on your property.
6. Keep your public informed with periodic Announcements during the storm.
For Yourself, Your Family and Community
1. Call 911+ if you need help or on behalf of someone else in need.
2. Post Tips to the public around you to inform your neighbors if you have lost power, trees have fallen on your property, road hazards, or other information that could be helpful.
— AFTER —
For Your Organization
1. It’s cleanup time. Send out announcements to let everyone know the plan.
2. Encourage people to keep posting tips as they see hazards or other issues on property that require attention.
3. Monitor and Resolve open tips on your property as you get things cleaned up.
For Yourself, Your Family and Community
1. Keep posting Tips to your community or organizations around you as you see items that need attention.
2. Monitor PunchAlert for Tips and Announcements so you can stay informed and help out as needed.
Interested in learning more? Reach out for a demo at https://punchalert.com/contact-us/
— BEST OF LUCK AND STAY SAFE —
The PunchAlert Team
PunchAlert is helping more and more schools to unite their communications to minimize critical response time after threatening situations arise and to shutdown suspicious or dangerous indicators before they turn into real danger.
Providence Day School in Charlotte is using PunchAlert as a way to do just this.
Have you ever wondered, WHY… in this modern world of technology, when you can order pizza with a tap of your finger on your phone, or a driver, and a date for tonight and a myriad of other things, you can’t do the same thing when you are in danger or have an emergency? Why?
It seems common sense, and like it would be one of the first apps developed… but unfortunately due to an antiquated national emergency system called 911, it has been really hard for modern technology to work with the red tape an infrastructure that currently exists. PunchAlert however is finally bridging the gap between technology and safety and 911.
Enter, PunchAlert, a mobile app that allows you to report an emergency with the click of its red button, alerting the nearest responders of your emergency as well as your exact location. With PunchAlert’s 911+, you can call 911 and send your exact location, name, and phone number to the 911 call center all at the same time. This is AMAZING but it is not all that PunchAlert offers.
Yes, there are other safety apps that alert pre-designated contacts; however your safety contact may be miles away and unable to get to you quickly. So what is the best thing to do? Well, alert the good people that are the closest to you and at the same time alert the 911 system of your exact location via text message, and or audio and video of your situation. AMAZING! All those things can happen at the same time. Well punch alert does even more than that.
Let’s break this down though, feature by feature.
Instance 0 — Report a missing or found item
Your dog is missing and you need help finding him or perhaps it is your keys or wallet you dropped on your walk home.
Use PunchAlert to post a tip notifying those around you of your situation and what you lost. Once found, a message can be sent to you letting you know it has been found. COOL!
Instance 1 — Escalating situation
Your date does not want to go home and you can see there might be a problem.
You can use PunchAlert to request help from nearby neighbors or using 911+, call 911 but also notify your friends and family at the same time. Your nearby friends can act quickly until officials arrive.
Press a button in the PunchAlert app to let people near you know that you need help now. Your neighbor can see this instantly and come knock on your door to diffuse the situation and see your visitor out of your home. Way faster than texting your friend that lives 8 miles away and with less mess PSHEW!
Instance 2 — Accident and need immediate help
Your car runs off the road, down a hill, and into a raging river and you don’t know where you are.
Unfortunately this actually happened and has been an oft cited in reports. The trapped individual was able to call a 911 center but their location was never located. The individual drowned. Using PunchAlert’s 911+, you will not only be able to call directly to 911 but at the same time information giving your exact location, name, and phone number is sent to the 911 call center. In addition, you can alert your family and friends of your situation.
You say how does 911 not know where I am? Well it’s true, when you’re on your cell phone they have to locate you via cell towers to get your general vicinity but they don’t know your exact location. LIFESAVING APP!
Instance 3 — Active Threat
Say you see someone suspicious with an automatic rifle on your college campus or in a public space.
Many types of organizations are using PunchAlert to protect their campuses, their employees, member, and visitors. In the advent of an active shooter, using PunchAlert you can quickly press the red button, again giving your name, exact location- down to the room & building you are in, and the type of emergency to internal responders on campus. Internal responders will be able to quickly contact officials and all people located on campus and make them aware of the active threat as well as relay safety procedures and recommended evacuation routes. Through PunchAlert you can directly call a responder, post a picture or video, send a recording, or chat with responders to help everyone more quickly resolve the situation and save precious seconds and lives. COMMUNITY SAVING INVENTION!
PunchAlert is looking to keep you safe no matter where you are and regardless of the situation.
Emergency preparedness accommodations for the disabled aren’t as costly as they’re made out to be.
Since the birth of the Americans with Disabilities Act, much has evolved. Supermarket aisles have expanded, schools have ramps, and you can now get on a bus in a wheelchair – something that wasn’t so easy 27 years ago. While this is all progress, our current corporate culture still lags behind in making our world one that’s accessible for everyone.
The biggest problem, surprisingly, may be that partisan against those with impairment still exists for employers. Many organizations feeling to hire someone with a disability means large sums spent on accommodations. The unemployment rate for impaired individuals was a whopping 10.7 percent in 2015, which doesn’t include those that have given up looking for jobs or those who never even entered the job market. That’s twice the amount of unemployment for those without impairment at 5.1 percent.
While hiring a person with a disability comes with many contingencies and aspects to consider, a federal study showed the average cost to be about $200, with one in five costing nothing at all. Many of these office alterations can also act safety measures, making the emergency preparedness for your office inclusive to those with impairments.
Making sure your organization has the right emergency preparedness in place to cater to disabled employees includes risk evaluation and extensive knowledge of legal and regulatory players, but studies have found the costs are not astronomical.
For example, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), completed a study showing that workplace accommodations are low cost and also positively affected the workplace in more ways than one. In one instance a product technician with a chemical sensitivity was having breathing issues at the office because of chemicals used in production. To accommodate the employer equipped this technician with a face mask, ear plugs, lab coat, and gloves, which were already available from another department. This alteration cost the organization $0, but assisted this employee with their medical issue and increased emergency preparedness when it came to chemical spills.
While this is just one example, modern technology now makes it easier for workplaces to design a corporate culture that feels built for the disabled employee – instead of one only built for only the majority. Offices with disabled employees should harness these advancements to increase emergency preparedness and make everyone feel safe.
For example, offices are discovering more and more that a Mobile Emergency Notification System, is the most cost effective and efficient way of safety management. What’s also helpful, is their multifaceted approach to safety makes it versatile enough to accommodate impaired employees as well. Hearing impaired employees can get visual mobile alerts right on their phones instead of being bypassed by alarms. Also, the two way communication on mobile safety systems allows for disabled employees to communicate with authorities and office administrators in real time during an emergency.
While accommodations like installing ramps can be a few hundred dollars or more, many others are virtually cost free. Proper planning, assigning a buddy system, training sessions, and running regular emergency drills to test procedures, can go a long way in increasing the emergency preparedness for the impaired, and those that aren’t, in your office. Most of what can and needs to be changed are methods and mindsets.
The low cost hiring and creating a safe place for disabled employees exposes the overlooked issue that the problem with disabled individuals isn’t medical, it’s societal. Individuals with disabilities should feel just as safe as those in your organization without and a hiring decision should never be effected by a false assumption that an impaired person can’t keep up.
While there has been much progress since the enactment of ADA, there’s still much to be done. If we all work together we can create a world with an even playing field that’s both accessible and safe for everyone.
Students are taught to use their time wisely, and campuses can do the same by improving their system of mass notification.
Though, we try to prevent crisis situations from occurring on campuses and take precautions for prevention, sometimes dangerous situations happen. In these cases, we must be prepared. Mass notification must be sent in a timely manner to an entire campus so those not yet affected can prepare and protect themselves. The irreplaceable benefits of a mass notification system are why nearly 75 percent of campuses have recently bought or will soon buy a mass notification solution. Communicating to a large amount of people in the least amount of time can, however, pose the largest of challenges.
Think back to the Virginia Tech shooting of 2007. Resulting in 32 deaths and 23 non-fatal injuries, could these have been prevented? Campus officials have been criticized for acting too slowly in taking actions against the horrific on-goings. In this case, too slowly was a matter of five short minutes. Not only did it take too long for public officials to take action, but the university waited two hours to inform students by email about the first shooting, and half an hour later by email again for students to “Please stay put.” Two hours passed before there was an official release, at this point not only are their students in panic, but students were unaware and confused about what happened. Virginia Tech is not the only campus-based instance where time has been of the essence, the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 experienced much longer than a five-minute delay, 40 long minutes passed before the appropriate officials were able to take action. Imagine how these numbers could be different if students, faculty and public officials were all notified with one push of a button.
Shootings on school campuses are not the only events that students, visitors and staff should be notified about. A chemical spill in a science laboratory affects the whole campus, not just the room it happened in. In the Fall of 2016, Saint Xavier University experienced a spill of a half gallon of hydrochloric acid. Getting a chemical spill cleaned quickly is necessary to avoid health hazards. An individual’s health can largely be affected in this instance, not only the students in the laboratory but everyone in that building can be exposed to said chemicals. Students need to know as soon as an incident occurs to evacuate, and responders should be alerted in the same time so the building can be taken care of in the necessary manner.
The Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990 requires all postsecondary institutions to make “timely warnings to the campus community regarding crimes that pose an ongoing threat to students and employees.” Public safety officials have a moral and ethical obligation to provide the safest environment possible for students and employees. Complying with government regulations and utilizing the features of an app like Punch Alert allows campus security to be as seamless and efficient as ever.