Military Family Preparedness: Emergency Notifications

When an emergency happens there isn’t going to be a lot of time for extensive communication. During an emergency, everyone wants the most up-to-date information at his or her fingertips. Unless you are the base commander, that is not going to happen. You’re not going to be able to get in touch with your spouse if they are at work because they’ll be busy dealing with the situation. Thankfully, most bases are loaded with methods to get the information out to the public.

Familiarize Yourself with These Three Popular Methods

1) Giant Voice

The Giant Voice is operated by the Command Post, also known as the information hub, on base. You hear the Giant Voice playing at least twice a day for reveille and retreat. This office receives every piece of information from first responders to the Base Commander. This notification system will be used for weather related emergencies, bomb threats, and many other miscellaneous events.

2) Facebook

Many bases now have their own Facebook pages run by the Public Affairs office. This is one of the greatest advances for Emergency Management field because it allows personnel to submit a large amount of information to the base populace. It’s not only used for emergencies, but periodic road closures and upcoming construction.

3) AtHoc

AtHoc is a mass communications system that is used for wide dissemination to its users. Notifications can be sent via email, text messaging, phone call, or desktop alert. Many people don’t know that civilian spouses and family members can use AtHoc. They simply need to have their spouse add their contact information to their account profile. AtHoc is a great tool because users don’t need to seek out the information, like with Facebook. They are notified directly after the event takes place. Unless you are browsing Facebook, you may not get the notification.

EmergencyKnow Your Tones

The Giant Voice can also send out warning tones, it’s important to know the difference between the tones before an actual emergency happens. It’s similar to police, ambulance, and fire engine sirens, they all have different warning tones and you should know the difference.

1) Weather related

There is a special tone for tornado warnings, usually preceded by an announcement. But, if you aren’t able to hear the announcement, you should know what a tornado siren sounds like; otherwise, you may think it’s an attack warning.

2) Warning/Peace time

There are two warning signals that will be played over the Giant Voice during an attack or emergency. The first is an attack warning, which is a 3-5 minutes wavering siren. It will sound like the fourth of July with horns and blasts to get your attention. If you hear this sound, it means an attack is imminent and you should seek shelter immediately.

The second warning signal is for an emergency that occurs during peacetime. This is a 3-5 minute steady tone, without extra horns and blasts. The steady tone will usually be played before the attack warning, if possible. If you hear this sound is means that you should be taking action to seek shelter.

Know Your Area-Specific Emergencies

Even in the borders of the United States there are a vast variety of disasters. The west coast can experience earthquakes, mudslides, and forest fires. The middle of the country can endure tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. The east coast has its fair share of snowstorms and hurricanes. Research what weather phenomena’s your area is known for and plan accordingly.

Emergencies or severe weather can scare anyone; no matter how much experience you have with either. But, knowing what kinds of tones to listen for and where to get information can make them less scary. Understanding mass emergency communications is only one step towards getting your military family prepared, but it’s an important one.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Emily Ruch

Emily Ruch

Emily Ruch was born in Minnesota and raised in central California before joining the Air Force at the age of 17. While serving in the Air Force, Emily worked in the Base Command Post specializing in Emergency Management. She didn’t travel the world as expected, but spent time in west Texas, Washington D.C., plus a short deployment in Southeast Asia. Instead of traveling, Emily spent most of her time on education, cultivating friendships with coworkers, and enjoying her surroundings. She was lucky enough to meet her husband of seven years while serving in Texas. Emily left the service after six years and began working as a correspondence coordinator for the Department of Energy. Now she is a stay-at-home-mom with her 10-month-old son and three dogs.
Emily Ruch

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