THE MAGAZINE

Are Evacuation Practices Flawed?

By Megan Gates

Created by Omnilert, LLC, of Leesburg, Virginia, Amerilert is a cloud-based system that covers the “full continuum of an emergency situation” by allowing administrators to customize alert communications to employees, members, partners, volunteers, and the public before an emergency occurs so they have a response plan in place, says Ara Bagdasarian, CEO of Omnilert. These messages are crafted and saved in the Amerilert system, where they can be issued simultaneously through text messages to mobile phones, e-mails, landline phones by voice calls, RSS readers, Web site pages, and more to reach everyone who might be impacted by the situation.

Administrators can set up accounts on the Amerilert Web interface and create groups that they would like to communicate with, such as employees at a specific office location. Those employees are then invited to become subscribers, setting up their account information and providing the correct contact information.

When an emergency occurs, such as an active shooter scenario, the administrator can initiate the Amerilert system through the Internet, or via phone, to begin pushing alerts to subscribed employees so that they can take the proper precautions for that situation, whether that’s sheltering in place or evacuating the building.

Once employees have received the initial emergency notification alerting them on what to do, they can respond—using e-mail, a text message, or a phone call—to confirm that they received the alert and to let the administrator know when they are no longer in danger if the administrator desires.

However, this isn’t always a good requirement to put into practice, depending on the size of the user base. “Part of the potential issue with that is if somebody doesn’t respond back…it might send a false positive that somebody is in harm’s way, or danger,” Bagdasarian elaborates, adding that this can quickly escalate if a large organization is using the system because many people are likely to forget to respond to messages.

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