Disaster may strike at any time or place. Whether caused by the forces of nature or human caused, disasters can take lives and destroy property. Gila River Indian Community’s best defense against this devastation is an informed public. Accurate information helps empower people to make effective decisions. A Crisis Communication System is designed to effectively manage public information and crisis communication during an event. Regardless of the size and complexity of the situation or the number of entities involved in the response, informing the Community is a priority.
When an emergency occurs in the Community, may require immediate access to communication channels and stakeholders. Communication may be internal to the organization or external to Gila River Indian Community enterprises and businesses. Communication may require public information or notifications to community members, employees, department, enterprises and businesses within Gila River Indian Community. To enhance this capability the Gila River Indian community, the Office of Emergency Management has in place a Reverse Notification System for the purposes of providing emergency information over the telephone system. In addition, the Office of Emergency Management has established a hotline for providing real time information to the public.
REVERSE NOTIFICATION SYSTEM
The Reverse Notification System (RNS) is a computer software program that allows GRIC Office of Management to contact homes and businesses with important information or instructions during actual or potential emergency situations. This system can been used for notification of incidents such as vulnerable missing children and adults, fires, flooding and hazardous materials incidents. A reverse notification system is available through Office of Emergency Management or the Public Safety Dispatch Center. Messages can be delivered in English, Spanish or the Community’s native language based on need and availability of a translator. The program is designed to provide a voice message to the distribution list(s) used.
The GRIC OEM in accordance with the GRIC Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Program, approved by Council Resolution GR‐136‐98; has the responsibility to develop and implement an emergency pubic information and management system to save lives, protect property, natural and cultural resources, and the environment during an emergency or disaster in the Gila River Indian Community. This responsibility is inclusive of the RNS.
The RNS has the ability to send out a public announcement to several hundred community members within a critical time frame at one time. The GRIC will monitor the hazards as identified through the threat assessment conducted within the boundaries of the reservation. In the event a natural or technological disaster or emergency occurs within the community; the following procedures will be followed to provide the notification and actions needed to provide for the safety and security of all members, stakeholders and visitors to the area. It is important to remember that the RNS is only one means of emergency communication with the Community. Other modes of communication currently include; public service announcement on television/radio, Nixle, Facebook, and the internet/intranet, door to door campaign and NXT Communicator system are examples of other systems.
The historical data collected from the community and surrounding areas have shown a regular potential of the following hazards. These hazards may require the use of the RNS.
- Thunderstorms: there is a high probability of significant thunderstorms as defined by
- The National Weather Service or other recognized reporting service.
- High winds: When the weather forecast calls for winds in excess of xxx mph, there will be a community wide bulletin.
- Wildland fires
- Structure fires
- Flooding/Flash Flooding
- Power Outage: When a power outage is experienced in the Community and the expected restoration of power is greater than xxx hours, a public notification will occur.
- Hazardous Materials Release
In addition, there are other factors that may require the use of the RNS. Those may include;
- Missing children or adults designated as vulnerable.
- Informational messages providing updates or public information that allow some preparation by Community members and businesses to prepare for a potentially impending threat.
When and if a large scale event occurs in the reservation boundaries the RNS will be implemented to start the information dissemination process. The decision and process made to use the system will be a quick and deliberate process; experience and needs will be used to develop those actions. The personnel authorized to make these decisions are as follows:
Gila River Indian Community
- The Office of Emergency Management Director or Designee*
- The GRIC Governor Governor: Stephen R Lewis
- The GRIC Lt. Governor Governor: Monica Antone
- GRIC Public Safety Department Police, Fire and EMS Incident Commander
* Only the OEM and GRIC Public Safety Dispatch Center has access to the system. Therefore it is vital to make early notification to OEM or Dispatch to initiate emergency messages.
DRAFT: Standard Operating Procedure – Reverse Notification System
PURPOSE: To establish proper protocol for the activation of the Community’s reverse notification system, and the dissemination of information on the system.
PROTOCOL: The Gila River reverse notification system will be used to alert specific geographical areas or groups of people of situations that are occurring in the community that may have an impact on life safety.
As the central link for all public safety entities, the communications center has been established as the primary sender for notifications to the system. A notification shall be sent by the communications center at the request of any field supervisor.
To justify an activation of the system, the following conditions should be present.
- Issued in a timely manner, giving the public enough time to react and follow the direction given by the message
- An emergency situation exists that threatens to cause loss of life and/or serious damage to health and property.
Each situation leading to an activation of the system is unique. Consequently, it is impossible to cover every specific condition that may warrant activation in this protocol. However, several general principles, when followed, can assist personnel to make a decision in any situation. By following these guidelines you will reduce the possibility of an error in judgment. The telecommunicator should ask themselves the following questions prior to activating the system.
- Would this be a legitimate activation of the system?
- Is there enough time to warn people before they are impacted?
- Are other means of warning practical in this circumstance?
- What should people do to protect themselves?
Examples of incidents for which to utilize the system would include; kidnappings, major flooding, hazmat spill/leak, armed and dangerous subject in the area. Examples of incidents that should not be sent through the system include routine be on the lookouts or routine weather announcements (thunderstorm warnings).
The system, at its inception will have all published landline telephone numbers that are on the community in the database. Citizens wishing to opt out or opt in to the system may do so by contacting the Office of Emergency Management at 520-562-7198.
When creating a message, a standard format has been developed to allow for consistency and effective delivery which will minimize the amount of hang-ups and provide critical information quickly.
Keep messages short (maximum 30-60 seconds), simple, and concise. Always include the following information in the warning message:
- Specific nature of the impending emergency
- Specific area affected, using familiar landmarks to define the area
- Time line of the emergency. If it is appropriate, state the time available for the public to take protective action
- Protective action the public should take. Be specific, concise, and use simple terms, e.g. TAKE IMMEDIATE SHELTER AWAY FROM WINDOWS; LEAVE THE AREA USING A WESTWARD ROUTE
When the system is used for a valid emergency situation, the message shall begin with and clearly state, “THIS IS AN EMERGENCY MESSAGE FROM THE GILA RIVER REVERSE NOTIFICATION SYSTEM.” This will most often gain the attention of the answering party and compel them to remain on the line for the remainder of the message. All messages shall end with and clearly state, “FOR UPDATES AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, YOU MAY CALL 520-562-9595.”
Testing of the System
The system will be tested on monthly basis on the first Monday of the month by the on duty day shift supervisor. The test messages will be sent to a single geographical group using a rotating round robin system to ensure that each geographical group is tested annually.
When using the system for a test purposes, the message shall state, “THIS IS A TEST MESSAGE FROM THE GILA RIVER REVERSE NOTIFICATION SYSTEM. IF THIS WERE AN ACTUAL EMERGENCY, ADDITIONAL INFORMATION WOULD HAVE FOLLOWED. THIS CONCLUDES THE TEST MESSAGE OF THE REVERSE NOTIFICATION SYSTEM.”
Office of Emergency Management Hotline
After sending a message via the reverse notification system, it is imperative to put an initial message on to the Gila River Indian Community Office of Emergency Management hotline. The initial message should contain the same information as the reverse notification system message, and then updated as needed.
The responsibility for emergency communication is based on the specific incident. For the purposes of this plan, emergency communication is assumed to be a role of Communication Public and Affairs Office, assigned Public Information Officers and the Emergency Operations Center when activated.