In Case of Emergency, Read This Blog

In Case Of Emergency, Read Blog

A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

Maryland Emergency Breakdown Underscores Importance of Email Alerts To Citizen Disaster Response (As Well As Role of Human Factor In Preparedness 2.0)

June 18th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Reader Jonathan Haber was kind enough to send me an article in yesterday’s Washington Post about how Montgomery County, Maryland’s e-mail alert system didn’t notify thousands of people after a major water main break, because the two employees who know how to operate the system were out of town. According to the Post:

When those two employees couldn’t be reached, a third employee who was supposed to know how to run it said that he had never been trained, said Gordon Aoyagi, the homeland security director. A fourth employee who was found eight hours later knew how to operate it but failed to send out any alerts. Residents and businesses learned of the water problem primarily through the media.

“The system worked,” Aoyagi said. “We failed.” 

The breakdown underscored the importance of these email/text alerts in emergency situations, according to the article:

The delay in the county’s emergency notification system played out Monday morning, when many parents were left scrambling after their children’s day camps were cancelled and school buildings that house year-round child care centers closed for the day.

The e-mail system is the county’s primary method for contacting residents in emergencies without relying on radio or television.

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Tags: Preparedness 2.0

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bruce Curley // Jun 19, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    This is why you rely on yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors and only as a s last resort government employees. As they are not held accountable and cannot be fired, this Marx Brothers movie emergency response happens happens over and over.
    Take a page from the citizens of Salt Lake City who in the early 80’s channeled the overflowing waters of the Great Salt Lake through their city and down to Lake Provo…on their own.
    “The system worked,” Aoyagi said. “We failed.” No…the system is broken and both the lazy government workers and the system (government) failed.
    I work in a bio-tech company in Montgomery County and the county was useless for getting answers during this event. They’re useless on a daily basis so it is not surprise that they would fail so in an emergency.
    For that level of incompetence, they are paid huge salaries by the highly taxes citizenry.
    Oy vey…

  • 2 admin // Jun 21, 2008 at 9:12 am

    thanks for the local angle on this. i also appreciate your recent post on father’s day — — which also draws from your personal experience with disaster.

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