With several threats and hazards facing T&T—from earthquakes to hurricanes to floods, and even in Friday’s context, a bomb threat–the population will have a new alert system to warn about approaching and ongoing emergency issues.
At the launch of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Month for 2023, the ODPM also launched the new Public Alert Notification System (PANS).
Following a review of the National Alert State, Public Warning, and Information Policy in 2022, the Cabinet agreed to two changes.
The first was to transfer responsibility for the national alert state from the National Security Council to the ODPM.
The second was to revise the national alert state from five levels to four, in line with international best practices.
While this review was underway, the ODPM sought solutions for a mass notification system and found the provider Everbridge.
How does the PANS work?
According to ODPM Operations Manager, Dennis Marcelle, when authorities detect, predict, or are made aware of a hazardous event, “That information is fed through our network to the ODPM. Through our day-to-day operations, the ODPM will assess the situation. Based on the perceived threat level, we can generate an alert through the system through multiple platforms, which is then sent to the wider public.”
Marcelle says the ODPM intends to use the system for the weather, flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, associated quake hazards, large fires, and several other threats.
He added that these alerts could be issued for any national, critical event. “It doesn’t really have to be a hazard. In fact, there could be something taking place that we need to alert the public to.”
Where do you sign up?
There are three ways to sign up for these alerts.
Firstly, you can sign up through the ODPM’s website, where a registration link and instruction video will take you through the process. The second option is through the Everbridge App, which is available on the Google Play and Apple App Store. The last option is through paper-based forms available via the ODPM.
According to Marcelle, it helps to know your risk. “That information is critical to any event or emergency. It will help you reduce your exposure level.
He added, “Secondly, we all want to protect our family, our loved ones protecting yourselves. Being more informed helps you to do that.”
Lastly, Marcelle said the alerts can help you protect your investment. “If you know things are happening, you may need to evacuate. You need to move your vehicle. This system allows us to reach the population with that message.”