The missile alert mishap in Hawaii which occurred in January 2018 taught many lessons. We will touch on a few of them in future articles. We hope that one takeaway is the need for training on the part of people with the capacity to cause mass panic. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Not to everyone. We have been pushing back against the notion, fostered in a few small circles, that each individual employee or participant in an organization have the ability to launch mass alerts.
This really happened: A potential customer, supposedly armed with “consultants” on the conference call, stated, “if an employee sees what he thinks is the barrel of a rifle, he should be able to send that information immediately to all employees.” I suggested that such information should be vetted in order to:
- determine what is actually happening
- determine what to communicate and to whom in order to get the most positive outcome. Yelling at the top of your lungs isn’t very constructive. It wasn’t in Hawaii
We will be writing more about “active shooter” situations and protocols, which account for a negligible percentage of mass alert applications (and frankly shouldn’t rely so much on various outside networks provided by wireless carriers.)
It’s clear that many people believe that speed is the most important element in employee notification. However, getting proper information to the proper people is what’s important. That responsibility should be given to the few who are trained to do it. The “if you see something” campaign does not suggest at all that each individual should be provided with an air raid siren.
That said, each person SHOULD have the ability to initiate a mass notification. And that starts with each person knowing who to contact and how, with minimal delays. There aren’t that many situations where an employee notification system is used where minutes count. But let’s imagine that they do. Do your employees know to whom to “say something” if they have a concern? Who are the proper point people? Organizations almost always fall down on that basic element. Let’s start there. Once that is done, everything starts falling into place because you can get from information source to properly generated mass alert very quickly.