The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 7, 2010

Carlisle gains emergency notification system

Next year the town will be able to contact residents in case of emergency through a single mechanism. The Board of Health has found that they can apply some of the remaining H1N1 grant funds ($6,150) to pay for the first two years of an emergency notification system. The state requires a 50/50 match from the community, and an ongoing commitment to continue with the system. On April 27, the Board of Selectmen (BOS) unanimously authorized an annual expenditure of $1,500 needed to implement the system in the next two years.

Town Administrator Tim Goddard indicated that the town made the May 1 deadline to acquire a matching $1,500 annually from the state for the next two years. Plans are to use the emergency notification system Connect CTY by Blackboard Connect Inc., a system similar to that used by the Carlisle Public School. The school system currently notifies parents of such things as emergency school closings.

Goddard said the town phone book will provide the core data for the town system, and that people with unlisted numbers will have a mechanism to add their information via the Internet. In fact, households will be able to add up to six numbers to the system allowing for the additions of cell-phone numbers and personal information devices through electronic addressing. Goddard did not feel the town website or electronic mail distributions alone would suffice in notifying residents in an emergency today.

“We were considering opening a public shelter during the flooding,” said Carlisle Board of Health Agent Linda Fantasia, providing a recent example of how the town might use the system. “But how would we contact our town residents? We’re the only town in the area that doesn’t have one or plan to add one soon.” Fantasia noted that only a subset of the town database can be used. For example, she hopes the Board of Health will be able to use it to remind parents with children under ten who have only received one H1N1 shot to bring them in again for a necessary second shot.

“We have talked about this for a number of years,” said Carlisle Fire Chief David Flannery, who said the ability to notify residents in case of emergency was “vital.” He spoke for using the system very judiciously and felt that the school has sometimes used the system too much. However, in a time of crisis – such as the need for rapid inoculation of the public – he felt the system would prove essential. ∆

(This article was posted May 6 and corrected May 10 -Ed)

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