407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director

Notifying Your Residents in an Emergency

Edward Sasdelli
Township Manager, Evesham Township

Is your community notification system effective? Do you even have a way of notifying your residents if there is a real emergency in your town? We had a community notification process contained in our Emergency Operations Plan. We thought it was sufficient - it wasn't. During the floods in July of 2004 in Burlington County, our MUA notified us that one of the wells sustained damaged and we had to issue a "boil water advisory" to our residents. We opened our Emergency Operations Plan, turned to the Community Notification section and went "by the book." In this case that meant put out press releases, notify radio & television and put a warning on our web page. We did everything in accordance with the plan. At our next Council meeting you couldn't find a seat, the place was packed with disgruntled residents who were dissatisfied with how long it took them to be notified of the boil water advisory.

If an emergency happened tomorrow in your town, can you notify all your residents and businesses in a timely fashion?

In an effort to improve notification of township residents and businesses in an emergency, the Township Council directed its Township Manager to work with the Municipal Utilities Authority, Fire Department, Police Department and Emergency Management Office to develop a more accurate, more complete and more responsive emergency notification procedure. The result is the Township's new TEAM system. "TEAM" stands for Township Emergency Alert Measures.

The backbone of TEAM is a New Jersey State Police computerized telephone system, often referred to as Reverse 911, capable of targeting everyone with a telephone at an Evesham address. Upon activation the computerized telephone system will call phone numbers with a recorded alert message. If no one answers the phone, the system will leave a message on the answering machine. All township numbers can be called in approximately four hours. With the exception of pre-announced test messages, TEAM will only be activated if there is an emergency that may be a risk to some or all Evesham residents.

In conjunction with the State Police we have already conducted two test messages and one operational message. It is the fastest, easiest and most economic method of notifying your residents in an emergency. The State Police charge us 20 cents per call and only when we use the system. We formally incorporated this system into our Township Emergency Operations Plan and Council adopted the amendments. The state police made the process very easy and our Emergency Management Coordinator provided all the information they needed to set up the system.


407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director

Notifying Your Residents in an Emergency

Edward Sasdelli
Township Manager, Evesham Township

Is your community notification system effective? Do you even have a way of notifying your residents if there is a real emergency in your town? We had a community notification process contained in our Emergency Operations Plan. We thought it was sufficient - it wasn't. During the floods in July of 2004 in Burlington County, our MUA notified us that one of the wells sustained damaged and we had to issue a "boil water advisory" to our residents. We opened our Emergency Operations Plan, turned to the Community Notification section and went "by the book." In this case that meant put out press releases, notify radio & television and put a warning on our web page. We did everything in accordance with the plan. At our next Council meeting you couldn't find a seat, the place was packed with disgruntled residents who were dissatisfied with how long it took them to be notified of the boil water advisory.

If an emergency happened tomorrow in your town, can you notify all your residents and businesses in a timely fashion?

In an effort to improve notification of township residents and businesses in an emergency, the Township Council directed its Township Manager to work with the Municipal Utilities Authority, Fire Department, Police Department and Emergency Management Office to develop a more accurate, more complete and more responsive emergency notification procedure. The result is the Township's new TEAM system. "TEAM" stands for Township Emergency Alert Measures.

The backbone of TEAM is a New Jersey State Police computerized telephone system, often referred to as Reverse 911, capable of targeting everyone with a telephone at an Evesham address. Upon activation the computerized telephone system will call phone numbers with a recorded alert message. If no one answers the phone, the system will leave a message on the answering machine. All township numbers can be called in approximately four hours. With the exception of pre-announced test messages, TEAM will only be activated if there is an emergency that may be a risk to some or all Evesham residents.

In conjunction with the State Police we have already conducted two test messages and one operational message. It is the fastest, easiest and most economic method of notifying your residents in an emergency. The State Police charge us 20 cents per call and only when we use the system. We formally incorporated this system into our Township Emergency Operations Plan and Council adopted the amendments. The state police made the process very easy and our Emergency Management Coordinator provided all the information they needed to set up the system.

Council now has a reliable and effective means of notifying all of our residents in an actual emergency. This system is truly a win-win for everyone. So I ask you again, if an emergency happened tomorrow in your town, can you notify all your residents and businesses in a timely fashion?

 

Article in June 2005, New Jersey Municipalities