The new tool for public safety is one of many which is to be used to alert Bradley County residents of weather or other crucial information regarding emergency events.
“April 27, 2011, was a day none of us could have imagined,” said Sgt. Ruthie Forgey, corps administrator for Salvation Army in Cleveland. “It was a day of tragedy in Southeast Tennessee and the Northwest Georgia area. True to our spirit here in the Southeast, we rose to the occasion and were able to get behind our community.”
Forgey said Cleveland and Bradley County raised about $380,000. An additional $1.5 million has been contributed by Salvation Army for storm recovery and development in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia.
“It is my delight to present a check that will allow for a three-year contract so Nixle will stay functional through the next three years,” Forgey said.
According to EMA Director Troy Spence, the program has been in the works for a little over a year. Alerts are currently only received through texts and emails. Spence said he hopes to add voice alerts through landlines within the next two months.
“This system is free to the community and for emergencies and emergencies only,” Spence said. He said the enhancement will allow the agency to get hold of emergency workers through 911 operators to help response times.
“For the local taxpayers, this is a gift that does not cost anything,” he added. “All a person needs to do is text CBCEMA to 888777. Everyone who is on the list will receive the alert within a second of it being sent. The old system was known to take up to an hour.”
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis thanked the Salvation Army.
“Going back to the storms of 2011, getting the alerts out to the community quicker was one of our top priorities,” Davis said. “We came up with the Nixle program and now the enhanced system. We are so appreciative to the Salvation Army for making this possible. I really think this will be great for the community.”
Texting CBCEMA to 888777 will add a number to the emergency alert list. Once added, an alert for Cleveland and Bradley County will be sent out no matter where the phone is in America.
“There is no limit on messages that can be sent out,” Spence said. “A lot of the systems we checked out were limited in how much [they] could be used, but this system is not like that.”
Forgey urged the community to sign up for Nixle.
“It is important,” Forgey said. “On April 27, there was story after story of people saying they were just about to sit down in their chairs when the next thing they knew, they were walking outside. It is impossible to seek shelter without a warning.”
According to Curtis Cline, administrative officer for CBCEMA, the next challenge will be entering data into the new Nixle Pro alert system. Data will come from existing 911 records.
The Nixle Pro system will also allow emergency managers to localize emergency event areas which will inform “groups” of people who could be affected, such as certain neighborhoods.