Emergency Notification System

The Dothan Police Department and the Houston County Emergency Management Agency have teamed up with local schools to make notification faster in the event of an emergency.

A simulation of a school shooting for training purposes was held back in October when the Dothan Police trained along with other departments.

However, if there was a communication breakdown, students and faculty might not know where to go.

Dothan Police Lt. David Jay said, "Well, communications are always a breakdown. One thing we're trying to rule out is the rumor mill. Recently, we had to do a modified lock down at Dothan High School and of course, the day cares and private schools are getting rumors that there is a shooter."

The way the system works is each school is asked to submit three cell phone numbers to the database to form what officials call a "three deep" wave of communication. Then, the EMA enters a message into its computer and once the message is sent, it reaches all destinations simultaneously.

Matthews "once we get the information from talahasee or the weather service, we put the information in there and send it to the schools usually in less than a minute they get the message we put in."

Previous police page systems can vary in delivery times, some messages not reaching their destination for 5-10 minutes. And, in instances such as criminal activity in the area, or severe weather that time is crucial.

Jay added, "We can inter them into a database; it's an instantaneous notification. If we have a lock down or serious weather event and it's instantaneous, so all areas that have our children during the day will be notified."

Officials stress the more schools involved, the more people that can be reached in the event of an emergency. Then, emergency responders can take care of the task at hand.

If you would like more information on starting this program at your school, contact the Dothan Police Department at 615-3632.

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