Heads Up Community Blog

City of Charleston offers free app to provide coronavirus information

WCHS News – City of Charleston partnering with company to offer app to provide coronavirus information

by JEFF MORRIS Friday, April 3rd 2020

 

The city of Charleston says it is partnering with a company to offer a free app to provide information to residents during the coronavirus pandemic. (WCHS/WVAH)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — The city of Charleston announced it is partnering with a company to offer an app to keep people informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heads Up Community is a free, downloadable mobile app that will allow the city to share community-based information with residents through real-time push notifications, according to a news release from the city.

Residents can participate anonymously. The news release said the mobile app does not require any personal information or mobile numbers. The app can be downloaded and is ready to receive notifications. It can be customized to select the information you wish to receive plus other towns that are available.

The app can be downloaded at the Google Play store or Apple’s Mobile App store.

Notifications can be shared with family and friends on social media by text message or email, depending on what social media and other applications the user has on his or her phone, the city said.

The partnership for the mobile app is with Heads Up LLC, a West Virginia-based company.

20 Questions to Help Nail Down Your Emergency Management Program

20 questions that can help officials get a handle on disaster preparedness!

Questions for disaster preparedness assessment of the county

1. Who handles the day-to-day duties associated with disaster preparedness and what percentage of their time is actually devoted to disaster preparedness? Typically, emergency management (EM) is assigned to law enforcement or the fire service, although some counties may have it assigned to the chief administrator’s office. If the EM function is located in the sheriff’s office, the fire department may not fully support the EM function and the reverse is true if the EM function is in the fire service. Turf Matters. If located in the CAO’s office, this isn’t as much of a problem — and other non-public safety departments may be more supportive of the EM program. Often, particularly in smaller counties, an employee may have a 25 percent or 50 percent time allocation for the EM program but the actual amount of time they spend on EM may be much less.

2. Does the county have a strategic plan for disaster preparedness?  If so, where is the county in regard to achieving the goals of the strategic plan? When was the strategic plan last revised?  Don’t be surprised at a “no” answer to this question, as very few counties have such a plan. However, EM is like every other important function of a county and should have a long-term strategic plan. It will pay huge benefits when a disaster strikes.

3. Does the county have an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)? When was it last revised?  There should absolutely be an EOP, and it should be updated at least every three years. In many states, it may be a legal requirement to have a plan.

Does the county’s Emergency Operations Plan contain:

  • Disaster communications (both with the public and other government agencies.)
  • Access and Functional Needs
  • Animal Rescue (Animal Control)
  • Damage Assessment (Building and Safety; Roads and Bridges; Parks and Recreation; Finance)
  • Debris Management, Debris Monitoring (Public Works/Environmental)
  • Disaster Cost Recovery (Finance and others)
  • Continuity of Operations (All departments)
  • Continuity of Government (Legal) (Where is the List of Succession?)

 

4. Is the Emergency Operations Plan compliant with NFPA Standard 1600? NFPA Standard 1600 or EMAP (the Emergency Management Accreditation Program) are objective national standards for measuring emergency management plans and preparedness.

5. Does the county have a plan for disaster cost recovery?  If so, when was it last revised?  Don’t be surprised at a “No” answer to this question, as very few counties have such a plan.  However, disaster cost recovery is like every other important function of a county and should have a working plan.  It will pay huge benefits when a disaster strikes

6. Is the county part of a mutual aid agreement with neighboring jurisdictions?  When was the mutual aid agreement last used?   When was the agreement last revised?  Mutual Aid is important to all jurisdictions, and the smaller the jurisdiction, the more important it is.  There can be problems with getting repaid for mutual aid if the plan hasn’t been recently used and has not been regularly updated.

7. When was the last emergency preparedness drill held that included activation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC)?  Compared to the day-to-day problems that counties have to deal with, holding an EOC exercise is easy to push off.  The purpose of such exercises is to find weaknesses and shortfalls in plans BEFORE a disaster occurs.  Regular EOC exercises, at least annually, should be required.

8. When was the last time employees, other than police officers or firefighters, had emergency preparedness training?  As with question number 7, this kind of training is easily delayed or not done at all. One of the purposes of such training is to find the weaknesses of the plan and to build the confidence of staff to cope with an actual disaster. Agencies that frequently train and exercise usually do much better in real disasters than those that don’t train and exercise.

9. Other than for police and fire, what were the last three emergency preparedness classes held for employees, when were they held and how many employees attended each class?  Law and fire get relatively frequent training as compared with all other government employees. However, once the disaster crisis has passed, these other, often untrained, employees will be responsible for getting the recovery going.  They need training too.

10. Exclusive of the police and/or fire department budgets, how much do we have budgeted specifically for disaster preparedness activities?  This can be compared to paying for insurance.  You don’t want to have it, but you also can’t afford to be without it when a disaster strikes.

11. Is this county accredited by EMAP (Emergency Management Accreditation Process)?  (See the last bullet of question #4.) The county should use either EMAP or NFPA Standard 1600 to ensure its EM program is comprehensive and healthy.

12. Does the county have a Disaster Mitigation Plan in compliance with the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA2K)? When is the DMA2K Plan next due for revision? While this sounds like an emergency management issue, it has a lot to do with county planning and land use policy, as well as Public Works and Roads and Bridges.  Following a disaster, counties with a current and approved DMA2K plan may be able to get additional funding for mitigation projects from FEMA.

13. Does the county have a volunteer CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), ham radio and/or animal rescue groups?  If so, what are the numbers of people trained and the number of people currently active in those programs?  When was the last CERT (and other) training program held and how many citizens participated?  Many of the better EM programs across the country incorporate volunteer programs.  There is an added financial benefit when a disaster does occur, in so far as properly documented volunteer disaster response efforts can be claimed against the county’s response and recovery costs.

14. Are all county employees aware that they are Disaster Service Workers under State law, and specifically, where in our hiring process is this addressed? In many states, all government employees are designated as Disaster Service Workers.  All county employees should be aware of this responsibility and be prepared to respond as per the county’s plan.

15. Does the county have a Disaster Purchasing Policy and other necessary policies to maximize our ability to receive Federal disaster assistance? When the county receives FEMA grants to pay for response and recovery costs, all work and expenses MUST comply with Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 200, and the county’s own purchasing policies.  Failure to do so is the single greatest risk to having FEMA or the Department of Homeland Security’s auditors take back ALL of the federal grant monies.

16. Where are the names and phone numbers of the emergency preparedness officials with our local school district(s), local hospital(s), and other significant local partner agencies and companies, including local utilities? When was the list last updated?  The emergency contact lists for both county employees and outside agencies’ employees get out of date rapidly and a consistent effort must be made to keep these lists up to date.

17. What should we be doing to be better prepared for disaster response and recovery? The county’s own employees may have some very good ideas about how to make the county better prepared for a disaster, but administrative channels may block the free flow of information.  The employees need to be a part of disaster preparedness and surveyed for suggestions.

18. Overall on a scale of 1 to 10, how well prepared for disasters is the county? This open-ended question may spur a greater awareness if asked of all employees, not just senior managers.

19.  Has the county ever had an audit by an independent outside expert to evaluate the state of preparedness and recovery capabilities?  Or does the Council exclusively rely on the self-assessments of staff regarding preparedness? Employees, especially senior managers may have personal agendas that will color their responses and prevent a realistic assessment of the county’s actual level of disaster preparedness for both response and recovery.  Recovery capabilities are often more difficult to assess if the county has not had a disaster for a long time.

20. Have any of the elected or senior officials ever attended an off-site disaster-related training program at the Federal Emergency Management Institute (often free), the University of Texas Extension or other nationally recognized emergency management training institute? The federal government has many low cost or no-cost training programs available for officials as well as rank and file employees.  Also, request that your state counties’ association feature emergency preparedness sessions at their meetings and conferences.

Once received, the answers to these questions may lead to an entirely new set of questions to be asked. Some answers may not paint a comfortable picture of the county’s ability to respond to and recover from a disaster but, all of the answers should enable the leadership to make better long-term decisions about the county’s ability to deal with day-to-day emergencies and those much rarer, but more deadly and costly disasters.

The most important thing is to ensure that there is an ongoing discussion of emergency management and disaster recovery issues within the county, and consistently funded efforts to make program improvements.

This article was written by Michael Martinet

About-For over 30 years, Michael Martinet has worked as an emergency manager and disaster planner.  He has over 20 years as a subject matter expert with FEMA’s Public Assistance program.

Continue reading →

Stay On Top of 2020 with the FEMA Calendar

Start the new year by checking out FEMA’s 2020 Preparedness Calendar. FEMA created this plan to provide customizable resources and activities throughout your area. It covers everything from Earthquake Awareness and Flood Safety to Pet Preparedness. FEMA launched the Ready Campaign in February 2003 to help educate and empower the American people to correctly prepare for potential emergencies.

January

 

February

 

March “It’s Not Luck” Campaign

April

 

May

 

June

 

July

 

August

 

September

 

October

 

November

 

December

Continue reading →

PUTNAM Co. EMS increases their mobile device users by 2000%

Putnam County, West Virginia has a population of 57,000 and began collecting smartphones in 2004 to use with their mass notification system. Their citizens had the ability to login to a website and enter their cell numbers. After six (6) years, Putnam EMS had a total of 242 signups. The national average is around 8% for this type of opt-in method.  They began utilizing the Heads Up Community mobile application in January 2019 and now have 4,957.

Finally, a great solution to remedy the opt-in problem.

Putnam County Director, Frank Chapman says “I would recommend the Heads Up community app for anybody that is looking for a way to notify the public…”  Putnam County EMS Website

How to Plan for Emergencies, Evacuations, and Disaster Alerts

Do you have a system in place to help notify your community with emergency or disaster alerts?

From: US Department of Labor OSHA

How does your municipality or workplace prepare and notify affected parties?

This is good info from OSHA.

Introduction

Nobody expects to have to need or use an emergency or disaster alert system. No one expects a sudden emergency or disaster to hit — especially one that affects them, their employees, and their business personally. Yet the simple truth is that emergencies and disasters can strike anyone, anytime, and anywhere. You and your employees could be forced to evacuate your company when you least expect it.

This booklet is designed to help you, the employer, plan for that possibility. The best way to protect yourself, your workers, and your business is to expect the unexpected and develop a well-thought-out emergency action plan to guide you when immediate action is necessary.

What is a workplace emergency?

A workplace emergency is an unforeseen situation that threatens your employees, customers, or the public; disrupts or shuts down your operations; or causes physical or environmental damage. Emergencies may be natural or manmade and include the following:

  • Floods,
  • Hurricanes,
  • Tornadoes,
  • Fires,
  • Toxic gas releases,
  • Chemical spills,
  • Radiological accidents,
  • Explosions,
  • Civil disturbances, and
  • Workplace violence resulting in bodily harm and trauma.

How do you protect yourself, your employees, and your business?

The best way is to prepare to respond to an emergency before it happens. Few people can think clearly and logically in a crisis, so it is important to do so in advance when you have time to be thorough.

Brainstorm the worst-case scenarios. Ask yourself what you would do if the worst happened. What if a fire broke out in your boiler room? Or a hurricane hit your building head-on? Or a train carrying hazardous waste derailed while passing your loading dock? Once you have identified potential emergencies, consider how they would affect you and your workers and how you would respond.

Click here for FULL article.

If an emergency (flooding, tornado etc) or disaster does happen, Heads Up Community can help with quick and accurate information notification.

Call us to learn more at 304-781-3410. A free demonstration is available.