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A Phone Alert System for Our Community

Jan 22, 2018

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How A Phone Alert System Works

The community-based Phone Alert System is not meant to replace the County’s SoCo Alerts or Nixle. Instead, a PAS can provides a flexible and fast way for residents to know about local emergency events that could potentially affect their lives. Phone Alert Events could include: wildfires, earthquakes (if phones still work), road closures on main roads due to major rockslides, etc., criminal activity that appears to be on-going, and potential flooding. In addition, the emergency event must have the potential to affect multiple families.

Five EPC Key Communicators decide whether a situation warrants a Phone Alert and they activate the system (i.e. record the Phone Alert by phone and then have it sent). Road Captains or anyone in the community can contact any one of the Key Communicators about a current situation. (See back of this sheet for more information about Road Captains and Key Communicators.)

A Free Service (that, nonetheless, needs donations!)

One Call Now is a commercial phone messaging system used by other communities (as well as some schools in Sonoma County to keep parents informed about school activities). The messaging system can call any phone (cell or landline) or message-recording device. Busy or unanswered phones are called multiple times. Calling hours are 24/7.

One community that is using One Call Now for their PAS is the Emergency Preparedness Committee (the EPC) of the Alpine ClubFriends of the Mark West Watershed. The EPC is providing this service at no cost to participants, although each 45-second call costs 9.3¢, and 1000 calls must be bought every year. For a $20 donation, one person can underwrite 186 emergency calls to help protect your neighborhood!

What’s covered in a typical Call Alert?

Caller ID: the Key Communicator’s phone number (and name, if programmable into your phone)

One Call Now’s announcement: “John Smith from the Emergency Preparedness Committee.”

What...is the of emergency.

Where...is the location of the emergency and, if a fire, where is it moving (if known).

When...the current status of event.

Why...you should be concerned (if not obvious).

Which...of the Emergency Responders have been call (to the best of our knowledge).

How to proceed...specific recommendations (like “Stay away from intersection of River Rd and 116.”).

And, if there is still time left in the call, more general recommendations, such as, “Updates might be available from your Road Captain or local radio or PressDemocrat.com.”

SAMPLE Sign Up Coupon

Sign My Family Up For Phone Alerts!

Name(s):  

Mailing Address:    

Physical Address (if different):   

Home Phone:    Work Phone(s), optional: Cell Phone(s), strongly recommended, since an emergency event can take out landlines:   

Email address (to receive system updates):_____________________

Optional Donation: any resident can sign-up for free for Phone Alerts, but the EPC does pay 9.3 cents per call. A $20 donation pays for 186 emergency calls! Please make checks payable to ___________________ and mail them to ____________________.

Help The Neighborhood Protect Itself

Join In Emergency Preparedness

Needed: Road Captains

1) A Road Captain helps keep the road’s list up-to-date: names of residents, addresses, and phone numbers.

2) A Road Captain explains the program to the road’s residents and tries to get them to participate, e.g. provide phone numbers for the Phone Alert System.

3) A Road Captain is a key communication point for the road for the Phone Alert System. Specifically, the Road Captain can be the intermediary between the road residents and the Key Communicators. During an emergency event, the Key Communicators will attempt to keep the Road Captains fully informed about developments so, in turn, the Road Captains can answer questions from their road’s residents.

4) Road Captains meet once a year (or more) to discuss the PAS programs and progress.

Needed: Key Communicators

1) Five Key Communicators are the communications point for coordinating the flow of information between the emergency authorities (e.g. RVFD, CalFire, etc.) and the Road Captains. The idea is that the emergency authorities cannot handle everyone’s calls during an event; if we present one Communicator, that Communicator can funnel information from the authorities to the Road Captains and, in turn, to the road residents. The information can also go in reverse: from the residents to the Road Captains to the Key Communicator to the authorities.

2) Ideally, the Communicators would work at home or be around a good part of the time.

3) The idea is to have at least one Key Communicator here during an emergency. Key Communicators should tell one another when they’ll be out of town via a simple email or call.

4) Key Communicators can decide by themselves when an event qualifies for a Phone Alert and what information needs to be sent via the Phone Alert System. Obviously, if they is time, Key Communicators can talk to one another before making the call.

5) During an Event, the Key Communicators ideally pass along more frequent updates to the Road Captains than may be appropriate for a general (full member list) Phone Alert. The Key Communicators can transfer these updates to the Road Captains via a traditional phone tree (which allows for discussion) or, if appropriate, a Road Captains Only Phone Alert, via a subset list of the Phone Alert System.

If you’re interested in helping the neighborhood protect itself during a local emergency, and being either a Road Captain or Key Communicator, then please email ________ at ___________.

DISCLAIMER: Do NOT rely solely on the PAS for information about local emergencies. The PAS is a non-official, volunteer effort to keep residents informed. In consideration for being a PAS recipient and by providing your contact information, you and your Successors indemnify and release from liability the members, volunteers, officers, and committee participants of the PAS for any damages that might be considered has having been caused by the failure of the PAS. Failures can include, but are not limited to, phone systems, vendor systems, volunteer errors and misinformation.

Privacy Policies

The names and phone numbers collected will not be used for any purpose other than to receive alerts for Phone Alert Situations as outlined above. Names and numbers will not be sold or transferred to any other organization. (One Call Now’s Privacy Policy is not to sell any of our information either.) In addition, participants are strongly encouraged to provide their email addresses for a separate email list serve that will only be used to keep participants informed about updates to the system, and to provide them with reminders, such as their current Road Captain’s phone number. Finally, we will need your home address so we know which Road Captain is yours.

Thinking about setting up your own Phone Alert System for your own little community? You can email your questions to Bill Blake, Facilitator, Emergency Preparedness Committee of the Alpine Club & Friends of the Mark West Watershed: pas@williamcblake.com.

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