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.

What you need to know about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)


COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the cold or flu, and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus. Be vigilant as severe cases may lead to pneumonia, kidney failure or death.

Mild symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Runny Nose & Sneezing
  • Cough & Sore Throat
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Muscle Pain & Weakness
  • Chills & Fatigue
  • Impaired Liver & Kidney Function

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises the following prevention methods:

Wash Hands Frequently
Use soap and water for visibly dirty hands or an alcohol-based hand rub frequently for non-visibly dirty hands.

Practice Respiratory Hygiene
When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Maintain Social Distancing
Maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.

Avoid Touching Eyes, Nose & Mouth
Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.

Seek Medical Care Early
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and tell your health care provider if you have traveled in an area in China where the virus has been reported, or if you have been in close contact with someone with who has traveled from China and has respiratory symptoms.

Mild Symptoms
If you have mild respiratory symptoms and no travel history to or within China, still seek medical care and be sure to carefully practice basic respiratory and hand hygiene and stay home until you are recovered, if possible.

Animal Proximity Precautions
Practice general hygiene measures when visiting farms, live animal markets, wet markets, animal product markets or contact with wild animals. Ensure regular hand washing with soap and potable water after touching animals and animal products.

Animal Consumption
Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.


LAST UPDATED:   February 13, 2020

For the most up-to-date information on possible vaccines, treatments, FAQs, news and more, please visit the following official health organizations:

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

World Health Organization (WHO)



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.





March “It’s Not Luck” Campaign


















Continue reading →

college student with books in hand

Staying Safe on College Campuses: Here’s How

college student with books in hand

Do you remember your college days?

So fun! New friends. Challenging chapter of life. Hanging out after class. Late-night studies. And other late-night ‘stuff’.

We also thought we were indestructible. Really untouchable. Fear for our lives never entered our thought process.

That is certainly not the case in today’s society and on today’s college campuses. Yes, there are still life-long friendships being fostered and classroom lectures that prepare us for the rest of our lives. But there is a certain sense of fear clouding campuses today.

How do you prepare? How do you stay as safe as possible?

Here are 5 good ways.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings. Know your campus. Study aerial maps. Take tours doing the day. Really know about as many buildings as you can. After you know your surroundings, stay aware of them. Keep music down on devices. Look around, a lot. Stay alert. Be aware of everybody around you; front & back.
  2. Walk in pairs or more. This goes for both male and female. Especially at night. If by yourself, ask campus security or police to walk you home.
  3. Trust your soul and follow your heart. If it feels strangely odd or just not right, avert the situation. Go another way. Turn around. Trust your feeling. It’s ok.
  4. Watch your drink. Again, guys or gals. Watch your drink being made. Hold it in your hands always. If drink, do so in moderation. Never take your eye off your drink. So folks may try to slip something in your drink. But if you are cognizant of your situation and stay vigilant, the likelihood is low.
  5. DOWNLOAD the Heads Up Community app. If there was a situation or emergency on campus, you would be notified via your phone. As would campus security, college administration, and even parents. It is a great tool for receiving information about stuff you want/need to know about.

Call Heads Up Community to learn more.  304-781-3410.

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

Butch Evans Headshot

A Q & A with Heads Up Community on mobile Emergency Notification Systems

A short, sweet and to the point A Q & A with Heads Up Community on mobile Emergency Notification Systems, with Butch Evans!

1.  Q.  What is a mobile Emergency Notification System?

A.  A mobile Emergency Notification System is a software system that is set up to send out emergency notifications to thousands of mobile devices grouped into geographic areas that users receive meaningful content related to emergencies in their area.

2.  Q.  How do push notifications work?

A.  A push notification is an automated message sent by an application to a user when the application is not open.

3. Q.  What does a community app do?

A.  The app is geared specifically towards events and other activities that are currently going on in the community.

4. Q.  What is a community?

A.   A unified body of individuals such as the people with a common interest living a particular area.

5. Q.  What is the status of social media?

A.  On average people across the globe spend 2 hours and 16 minutes per day on social media and use an average of 8.9 platforms.

6. Q.  What is noise on social media?

A.   Noise is information that is not useful; which does not have any value to you right now.

7. Q. What is the best time to receive social media deployments?

A.  * Early AM (1 am-8 am) 18%
* Working Hrs (9 am-4 pm) 52%
* After Hrs (5 pm-12 pm) 30%

#1 Emergency Texts App Used to Alert Communities and Universities

From: WV Record

By Kyla Asbury

Charleston, WV…  A new mobile app is using Emergency Texts and notifications to inform the local community and university students about events and emergencies.  Heads Up! Community works to inform the public and students about important events.

It’s like receiving Emergency texts right to your phone.

“What is so unique about this mobile app, is that the user can select the community or communities they wish to follow plus the type of subject matter they wish to follow,” Butch Evans, vice president of marketing, said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. “The app was originally developed to provide emergency managers with a large pool of mobile devices. The managers’ current method is to request the user to go to a website and enter their cell number, name and address. The national average of this Opt-in method is around six percent. It appears that the public is not willing to provide personal information.”

Evans said that after downloading the free Heads Up! mobile app, the user can select the state, county and/or city they wish to follow.

The user can then select the areas of interest they wish to follow.

“If the user does not have kids, they can uncheck the option to be notified about schools and children’s events,” Evans said. “Which empowers the user.”

To prevent irrelevant material from being distributed, the city and or college assigns knowledgeable subject delegates to send out the messages.

Evans said the app is being marketed to more cities nationwide. Currently, in West Virginia, it’s available for Cabell, Doddridge, Gilmer, Hancock, Jackson, McDowell, Putnam, Raleigh, Ritchie, Roane, and Wayne counties, as well as Cottageville, Evans, Gay, Kenna, Millwood, Ravenswood, Ripley, Sandyville, Silverton and Nitro.

A university model is available that is branded with the school name and logo.

To learn more or get a FREE demo, call them at 304-781-3410.

heads up community training video

Easily Learn How to Use Heads Up Community, and Receive Push Notification Updates!

Now that you have downloaded the Heads Up Community Mobile Application, here is how to do a quick setup. Once set up, you will be able to receive push notification updates for STUFF that matters the most to you!

  1. Launch the Heads Up Community Icon.
  2. It will show the alert list.
  3. At the top left of this list is a menu.
  4. Select menu, and it will display some options.
  5. Select the settings option and you will see a list of States available with Heads Up.
    1. Note, that all Statesareturned on. You will be required to turn off the states and their communities. To the right of the state is a down arrow symbol. Select that down arrow and the arrow will turn up and you will see a list of all the communities within that state. Simply deselect each community by swiping the button to the left. Repeat this for all communities, in all states, that you do not wish to follow.
  6. Now that you have removed all the unwanted states, select the state, by selecting the down arrow, then community you wish to follow.
  7. Now, it is time to select your categories which is your areas of interest.
    1. First select the emergency category using the down arrow.
    2. Deselect any categories that you do not wish to follow.
    3. Once completed, click on the up arrow of the emergency category.
    4. Now, it is time to select your community categories Select the community category using the down arrow.
    5. Deselect any categories that you do not wish to follow.
    6. Once completed, click on the up arrow of the community category.
  8. Select Menu in the upper left corner.
  9. Select alerts.
  10. From this point, you will begin receiving notifications in those areas of interest that you just setup.
  11. Feel free to go to your other applications.
  12. This completes the setup

Now you are all set to receive push notification updates on the things that matter most to you in your community.