Our County: EMA’s First Alert system celebrates a milestone
by D. Gary Davis
Feb 18, 2014 | 714 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The April 27, 2011, storms in Bradley County, as well as past heavy rains, flash flooding and our most recent ice and then snowstorms have served to remind me that one of the chief responsibilities of government is to keep its citizens safe.

With these recent emergencies, it is now hard to imagine a time before “Nixle” was a common name in our community. But to quote from an article from just three years ago, this was the reality.

“One of the lessons learned from the April tornadoes was that Bradley County needed an expanded and reliable emergency first alert system capable of informing you and your family of an impending emergency. Such a system would need to be available 24/7, interface with today’s digital technology, be easy to use and be capable of providing emergency alerts, important advisories and even community updates.”

EMA Director Troy Spence and his staff spent several weeks looking at various options. The system most suited to the county’s needs was the Nixle Community Information Service. (http://www.nixle.com/about.html.)

This communications tool is one of many now being used by the Bradley County EMA to get the word out in the event of possible impending disaster and to keep residents informed of how the agency is handling the situation. It will also relay information on what the public should be doing to remain safe. It is capable of providing up-to-date information by cellphone, email and on the Internet. It interfaces seamlessly with other public-to-public communication services, such as Twitter, Facebook and other means … and has a high level of security.

Most First Alert systems cost between $30,000 and $50,000. I want to commend Spence and his staff for finding an innovative system that will provide the service at no cost to the county nor to anyone who signs up for the emergency notifications affecting Bradley County. Originally purchased by the Salvation Army for the residents of Bradley County, it has proven to be extremely valuable on many occasions, and for that reason we are very thankful for many people and organizations working together for the common good and safety of our community.

Messages are prioritized as Alerts (weather warnings, severe storms), Advisories (school closings, missing persons) or Community events (smoke testing, Block Party street closings) and may also include other relevant safety information. Subscribers can choose which of the three messages they wish to receive and the method of delivery — whether by email, text message or over the Web.

Another available feature of Nixle allows messages to be sent specifically to residents registered within a community radius, giving them the opportunity to receive information relevant only to their neighborhood.

The First Alert system is in place and now has a subscriber list of 9,962 of our local residents, as of Feb. 14, 2014. Now, I’m once again asking that you do your part. Log on to www.nixle.com and register your email address and cellphone number, as well as those of your family members. If your cellphone provider has a text plan that you have purchased, you may also text CBCEMA to 888777 and this will also register your phone for text alerts.

Encourage your neighbors and friends to also register. The Bradley County EMA will do the rest. If an emergency occurs, you will receive an instant message alerting you to the situation and what, if any, action you should take.

Bradley County is blessed with a highly skilled group of first responders in the Emergency Management Agency, Sheriff’s Office, Bradley County Fire-Rescue, Cleveland Police and Fire departments, and EMS. I believe the Nixle First Alert System is a great tool to assist them in doing their jobs.

I urge you to help us keep you and your family safe, informed and connected to the community. Spread the word with friends, extended family and neighbors. Let’s make Bradley County a safer place to live. Register at www.nixle.com and be immediately informed in case of an impending emergency in our community.

Thank you for taking the time to prepare for our next emergency now and for taking the steps necessary to do your part to help keep us all safe and informed. With Nixle as a tool being added to your family’s choice of news media and information, we can all do our part to ensure Bradley County remains ... Tennessee at its best!