In preparation for the upcoming Active Shooter Drill, emergency managers across all Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) tenants and commands have been busy updating, integrating and unifying the base-wide emergency notification system known as Everbridge.
This platform is unique in its ability to store and utilize multiple points of contact for base residents and staff quickly, efficiently and electronically. Depending upon the information provided by the individual, it can send alerts using work telephones, home land landlines, personal cell phones, email, text messages and fax machines in the event of an emergency.
Everbridge is not a new system to NSAB. Tenants like the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), Uniform Services University of Health Sciences (USU) and Navy Medical Professional Development Center have operated these platforms for quite some time. However, the commands operated these systems independently of each other and of base-wide services and support.
Dialogue between commands, following world events and a push for base readiness in preparation for the Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield, prompted the commands to integrate their Everbridge systems. This joint operation will allow base emergency services to quickly mass-contact individuals and will be tested simultaneously across all commands for the first time, during the Feb. 27 active shooter drill.
Personnel at USU are well prepared for Everbridge testing during the exercise. Faculty and students are recorded in the system as soon as they are enrolled or employed, said Department of Military and Emergency Medicine deputy at USU, James Schwartz.
However, the information on file only includes contact information from sources provided by the University, such as office phone numbers and work related email. Personal contact information, such as cell phone numbers and private emails are excluded.
Schwartz strongly encourages staff and students at USU to voluntarily submit more information. “I, personally, have many different points of contacts in the system,” he admitted. “Even if I’m not at my work computer or sitting by my office phone, I want to know what’s going on; especially if I’m at home and I’m not sure whether or not to go into work.”
Staff at WRNMMC will not be required to interact with the Everbridge database as much as other tenants on the base. Emergency contacts for the hospital are believed to be mostly accurate, due to regularly updated recall rosters, but staff are encouraged to provide as many forms of contact possible when updating rosters.
At the end of each month, hospital directorate liaisons compile personnel information and submit them to Christopher Wyatt, the emergency support specialist for Walter Reed Bethesda. “If anyone leaves or joins the staff, I know about it and it’s reflected in the system,” said Wyatt.
In a test completed Feb. 20, Wyatt contacted WRNMMC staff using information submitted to Everbridge and received a 70 percent confirmation rate from hospital staff.
“No system is going to get a 100 percent response rate … but in the event of a real emergency we need to reach as many people as possible,” said Wyatt.
He advises hospital personnel to keep their contact information up to date, by reviewing them with department directors whenever a contact route changes or becomes ineffective, as well as, actively participating in the quarterly contact reviews.
All other personnel on base are expected to directly input their contact information into the online database manually, says NSAB Emergency Manager Ron Kunz.
Utilizing work emails obtained from department heads around NSAB, the emergency manager has recently contacted both civilian and service member personnel on base. The notifications directs staff and residents to the Everbridge website where they can create secure accounts and input other points of contact.
“Everyone, with the exception of the hospital staff, should go online and update their information,” said Kunz. “The information we currently have just does not use the full potential of this important system.”
Once information has been captured by Everbridge, Kunz recommends keeping it up to date by reviewing it twice a year alongside other emergency notification databases, like the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System.
If you work or reside on NSAB and would like to submit or update your personal contact information on Everbridge contact Kunz at Ronald.Kunz@med.navy.mil