TJ9.3 The derecho and 911: Attention all units on the air

Monday, 7 January 2013: 2:00 PM
Room 18D (Austin Convention Center)
Margaret L. Fowke, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD

Can you hear me now? What are the best solutions when communication, social media and technology fails? Imagine being an injured citizen trying to call 911 during September 11, Hurricane Katrina, Joplin tornado or other major disaster and the phone connection is lost for three days.

During the evening of June 22, 2012 prior to arrival of a microburst, all emergency medical vehicles in Montgomery County, MD heard the follow alert: Attention all units on the air, the NWS has issued a thunderstorm warning for the entire area. Please be advised the wind speeds of this storm are expected to be above 80 mph. Within an hour, the storm hit a neighboring Maryland county causing downed trees, wires and building destruction. Montgomery County's Silver Spring Fire Department Station 1 was the only station to lose its connection to the 911 Emergency Communication Center (ECC). Other stations in the county were unaffected and were being dispatched for emergencies, except Station 1. As ECC began to follow up for the usual en route notifications from emergency vehicles at Station One, they noticed there was no response.

The following week on June 29, 2012 a derecho impacted the Washington DC area and this time, three northern Virginia counties lost 911 communications. Injured citizens were being directed to an alternate number and/or told to walk to the nearest fire or police station.

Solutions to the issue will be presented using station watch, hand held radios, CERT teams and EMS principles of Incident Command.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner