JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas --
During an emergency, getting accurate information out to as many people as possible, as fast as possible, is crucial.
According to Ed Doss, the Installation Exercise Program director with the 502nd Air Base Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, there are several ways for the information to reach people, including word of mouth through phone rosters, email and the AtHoc “purple globe.”
The AtHoc purple globe refers to the icon for the Air Education and Training Command’s Emergency Mass Notification System program installed on the installation’s computers.
“AtHoc is probably the best source we have for getting information out widespread, as fast as possible,” Doss said.
The system is operated and managed by the installation command post, said Tech. Sgt. Katherine Medellin, noncommissioned officer in charge of training and security for the command post.
Users must sign up for the notification system using their common access card, or CAC, from a government computer, but have the opportunity to enter their personal cell phone number to receive phone call and text message notifications after hours or while they are away from their government computer, Doss explained.
“You can select your JBSA locations, and put in your work phone, home phone, personal cell phone and text message number,” said Michael Broeker, 502nd Air Base Wing Inspection Team manager. “Regardless of where you’re at, you’re going to get it.”
Service members are able to sign up their family members as well through the system, so that they receive notification on their phones as well, Doss said.
Not everyone on JBSA has a CAC and therefore access to the notification system, and for those people, it will be important to listen to installation-wide mass loudspeaker system, often known as the “giant voice,” during an emergency, Medellin said.
“During a real-world event that happened last year, we had people call 911 to try to get information,” Doss said. “If they had been properly registered in AtHoc, that information was going out on a regular basis.”
In addition to getting notified, it’s important to understand what to do in various emergency situations, including the differences between a raise in the force protection condition and an installation lockdown, said Medellin.
Doss explained that there are several options to receive initial or refresher training on what to do, ranging from online training to organization anti-terrorism programs and classes offered by the local security forces squadron.
If someone sees something out of place, but hasn’t received any type of notification, they can always call their leaders, rather than 911, to find out more.
“We’re all carrying cell phones, if we don’t get the notification, and we see something, we can always call our supervisor, call our chain of command, and find out what’s going on,” Doss said.
For more information on AtHoc visit http://athoc.com.