“On a November evening five years ago, Tennessee firefighters fielded calls about a fire burning in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near Gatlinburg. A few days later, high winds pushed the fire into the park’s Chimneys Picnic Area—out of control. 

Today, the Chimney Tops 2 Fire is considered one of the most devastating fires in the state’s history. Cell phone reception went down. The region’s 9-1-1 system couldn’t handle the call load. It caused an estimated $2 billion in damage—more than 17,000 acres were burned and 14 people died.

At the time of the fire the county ‘s emergency alert system had only 1% of the population enrolled to receive emergency alerts.  While the system was in place to send the alerts the work to enroll the local community had not been completed which made the system ineffective when needed for this emergency. 

A critical part of preparing our community and our local healthcare organizations for emergencies is making sure the available communication tools are used by our staff to receive critical communications.   PUSHECS has created a page with links to many of our regions City, County and Federal alert systems to assist your efforts to communicate with your staff the many alert system in place that they can sign up for so they can receive effective and timely emergency alert notifications.  Consider making this information available on your staff emergency preparedness programs.

 

See the PUSHECS page on regional and national alert systems for more information

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