KNOW your system
Many companies that provide emergency alerting solutions, like Alertus, offer webinars, product guides, knowledge bases, and more for you to continually educate yourself and other users on the features of your system.
Once you know your system, make sure you assess it frequently. Clean up your preset messages to ensure they are accurate and applicable to your emergency communication needs; turn off features that are not being used actively; check each users’ permissions and restrictions.
The Alertus System allows customers to individualize its administrators’ user privileges. Be sure to turn off alerts per user, if applicable. If a particular staff member or Alertus user should only have the ability to issue one type of alert, make sure that is the only one they can see when they log in, to decrease the chances of a mistake.
Keep emergency communications aligned with emergency plans and procedures
Have separate logins for your dispatchers and your administrators, if they happen to be different. It can also be helpful to have specific logins for administrators that act as dispatchers in emergency situations. If your system configurations are reflective of your emergency plan, there will be less room for hesitation, slowdowns, or confusion when sending an alert.
Emergency plans and procedures often change over time. In many instances, organizations develop comprehensive checklists to guide dispatchers and operations center controllers through a series of sequential steps to accomplish an approved procedure within the constraints of the emergency response plan.
Use consistent and expected language
Make sure your naming conventions are clear, descriptive and not confusing. For example, the names “Test 1 Emergency” and “Test 2” can easily be made less confusing by renaming them “Test - Shooter - Lockdown East Wing” and “Test - Tornado - Shelter in Place” Make sure all of your messages abide by the same format; for example: “Urgency level, Type, Location.”
Make sure all of the users of the system understand the naming conventions of the alerts. Organizations should ensure naming conventions within the checklist remain consistent with the naming conventions applied within your emergency notification system. Further, system owners should continue to communicate and emphasize the emergency notification system configuration and use; often, system owners will formally publish changes and post them to required readings list or include them as a shift-change/assumption of duty briefing item.
Do not neglect to inform your students, employees, and other community members whom the system is designed to protect of changes in alert procedures. More importantly, train them on the naming conventions and terminology to expect when they do receive an alert. The goal of every emergency communication is to ensure that the targeted audience will understand not only the type of emergency occurring but also the steps to take to keep themselves safe. Do your employees and students know what actions need to be taken when they receive a “Lockdown” message?
Always look at the confirmation page
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, always stop to look at the confirmation page! Read the confirmation to yourself and even say it loud if before sending an alert.
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