Emergency communications system planned for Kingsley Field Airmen

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

The 173rd Fighter Wing is working to establish a line of communication to every Airman assigned to the wing. It’s a challenge every wing, and in fact every organization, military or otherwise, works to address.

At first glance it doesn’t seem overly daunting, but despite our highly interconnected world, it is difficult to keep every member informed on an up to the minute basis.

For example, when a snowstorm closes the base while crews work to remove the snow it’s beneficial to let everyone know. In the past, we have used both a third-party application or a phone tree. Unfortunately, many Airmen still don’t receive the message and show up at the base.

Today, plans to use a service called Everbridge are underway. This program is used by first responders for emergency communications and does not require anyone to download software or join a web-based application (thus avoiding things like 30-day password update requirements).

“Adopting this communications platform helps us reach nearly every one of our Airmen with urgent messages; a significant reason for that is it doesn’t require them to download an app or establish an online account,” says Col. Lee Bouma, the 173rd Fighter Wing commander. “This is also beneficial because, aside from a phone number or email address, you don’t have to supply any personal information.”

Everbridge uses an automated system populated with contact information from recall rosters maintained in each organization and messages are routed to said contact.

“We anticipate being able to reach 100-percent of Team Kingsley,” says Senior Master Sgt. Ross Hawkins, who is spearheading the effort to integrate the program into wing communications. “I’m sure we will have some bugs to work once we get to the wing-wide testing phase; however, I’m fully confident that we will be able to solve those issues and make sure all of our members are able to receive important messages.” 

He went on to explain what those messages will look like. “You could receive a text message to your personal and or work cell phone, an email, or even an automated phone call.” 

Hawkins specifies that text messages will arrive from number 893-61, phone calls from 503-983-2261 and email messages from noreply@everbridge.net. He recommends adding these numbers to your contact list so you know when you are receiving an alert, but says it isn’t a requirement.

Determining which of those is used depends on the urgency of the message, explains Hawkins, and will vary case-by-case. Generally, text messages will be the first avenue followed by email or phone calls if a person doesn’t respond to the initial text.

Planning for the implementation of Everbridge is still underway but Hawkins says he expects it to be operational in the Spring.

Although this does promise to get emergency or urgent communications to nearly every Kingsley Airmen, there may be some who inevitably will not get the message, or perhaps more accurately there are some who won’t read the messages when they are sent.

The program promises to get messages to every Airmen on a recall roster, with the understanding that reading them is up to each individual.