ECN partners with Spartanburg County to conduct PrepareAthon tornado exercise

donEmergency Communications Network (ECN) recently became a partner with the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) in the America’s PrepareAthon Program. America’s PrepareAthon! is a grassroots campaign for action to increase community preparedness and resilience. Two specific dates have been identified as National America’s PrepareAthon Days. Those dates each year are April 30 and September 30. If you are an official authorized to deliver notifications to the public or your staff, contact your Regional FEMA Office to learn more about how they can assist you in this regard.

In March, ECN worked closely with one of our CodeRED Emergency Notification System clients in Spartanburg County, S.C. to conduct a preparedness project through America’s PrepareAthon. Spartanburg County had planned a community tornado exercise for the major part of the initiative. The local government, public schools and a few businesses participated in the exercise. To start the exercise, they planned to sound tornado sirens located within the county. A comprehensive media campaign was conducted to make residents aware of the exercise and the siren testing.

Doug Bryson, the Spartanburg County Emergency Management Director, also wanted to test the CodeRED mass notification system and decided to use the system to assist with notifying the public about the exercise events. He also wanted to encourage residents to provide additional opt-in contact information in the CodeRED system and encourage residents and business owners to conduct their own tornado exercise individually.  ECN’s live, in-house client support team worked closely with Spartanburg County Emergency Management to create an effective message to be delivered to their entire population that would be clear, concise and contain all of the preparedness information they wanted to convey to the public.

The CodeRED alert message was delivered to the public the afternoon before the exercise. It advised residents of the Countywide tornado exercise on March 11, 2015, reported sirens would be sounded as a test at 0900 hrs and encouraged residents to provide additional opt-in information to the emergency calling database. The message also also encouraged everyone to conduct their own tornado drills and indicate if they in fact would participate.

The calls were made with an 87% connection rate through CodeRED, which was a huge success. As a measurement to the effectiveness in the preparedness campaign, we were able to provide campaign statistics to show the number of new contacts as well as how many recipients indicated they would be participating in their own tornado drills.

These statistics were shared with FEMA which helped to gauge the success of the preparedness initiative conducted in Spartanburg County.  If you are interested in conducting a similar preparedness campaign using your CodeRED system or would like more information on how CodeRED can assist you with other preparedness efforts, contact Don Hall, Director of Government Relations here.