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Force protection

New alert system is free to all on JBLM

Service tested during recent JBLM exercise

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:09PM December 5th, 2013

Joint Base Lewis-McChord has a new mass notification system, and it’s free to sign up.

The system is a hook-up from Pierce County Emergency Management’s Everbridge system. At the order of the JBLM commander, officials can send out automated calls, texts and/or emails to alert the public to an emergency on base.

“This is really an emergency (notification) system,” said installation emergency manager Edward Wood of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. “It’s not going to tell you where the best Christmas party is. It’s really for the first alert.”

Testing was done during the full-scale force protection exercise “Vigilant Warrior,” which simulated a terrorism and active shooter event on JBLM.

Unlike some mass notification methods, JBLM Alert only communicates to people who have signed up for the service. Sign up is free online at http://bit.ly/16TfRSl.

Once someone creates an account, JBLM Alert asks you what types of notifications you want to receive. Categories include emergency alerts, utility notifications, weather, road/gate closures, public safety notices and other security measures.

JBLM Alert then asks for at least one location. Wood said people can input their home, work or other frequent locations; people only will receive alerts pertaining to the locations they have entered.

The key part is the contact information. JBLM Alert requires at least two contact methods. You can input your work phone number and email; home phone; two cellphones and two text message numbers; a personal email and a TTY/TDD.

Wood said the county has given JBLM access and the ability to manage data gathered by users. That data only is used by JBLM Alert and Everbridge. “We don’t sell it,” Wood said. “Everbridge has it, and we have it.”

Wood said that anyone with a cellphone who is attached to JBLM should separately sign up for the system. That way, even if someone puts in an off-base location, the system can notify them.

JBLM officials still are working on the details of what a message might look like. Texts have only 140 characters, so Wood said messages could be as simple as telling people there’s an emergency in an area and issuing a “shelter-in-place” or “stay away”-type order.

For now, individually going to the website is the only way to sign up for JBLM Alert, Wood said, though any computer with Internet access can get to it. Eventually, sign up for the system will be part of in- and out-processing, and will be available at ICE terminals on base.

For those leaving JBLM who no longer want any alerts, sign into your account and deactivate it.

All personal information is kept confidential and will not be used for commercial purposes.