Wednesday, February 17 – The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is expanding the Territory’s early warning system by installing warning devices within a number of critical facilities including schools, police stations, clinics, national parks, post offices and fire stations.   

The new components will be purchased from viaRadio Envoy Emergency Solutions which offers an alerting system that provides near instantaneous messaging for persons indoors who are unable to hear the outdoor siren network located throughout the Territory.

At a press conference held yesterday at the Leonora Delville Primary School, which was selected as the pilot school, Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Andrew Fahie and DDM Director Ms. Sharleen DaBreo announced the installation of the radio units in all public and private primary and secondary schools, throughout the Territory.

The director explained that in the event of an emergency, the units will be activated simultaneously from the DDM and will provide a warning tone and text scroll with specific instructions for receivers to follow depending on the type of hazard impact expected.  Ms. DaBreo further noted that prior to the actual installation of the units an extensive public education campaign will be launched so that persons who will have access to the units will know how to use them.  

Hon. Fahie in his remarks at the press conference explained the importance of these warning systems for school administrators and students.  He said, "This project is very important.  To put devices like these in all our public and private schools is essential to saving lives in the event of disasters.”  

The minister commended the DDM for its efforts and for making this initiative a reality.  He indicated that he has been following the planning stages of this project closely and was pleased to be informed earlier this year that the project proposal had been developed and funding obtained.  

On January 26, 2010 the DDM signed an agreement with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to receive funding in the amount of approximately US$18,290.00 to purchase the major components of the viaRadio system as well as to secure 45 units to be installed at selected sites throughout the Territory.  

Mr. Dale Lake, Emergency Communications Manager at the DDM described how the units will function.  He said, “Alerts will travel from a secure server to FM transmitters owned and operated by ZKING and ZROD to the intended destinations in seconds. The DDM will use this system to transmit messages in English or Spanish to key personnel with specific instructions that they should take in the event of natural and technological hazard impacts and for informational purposes.”

Mr. Lake further stated, “The viaRadio units have the ability to notify a large number of receivers in seconds and the units can also be linked to cell phones and email systems for simultaneous alerting.  The units are supported by backup power supply and can be connected via satellite links to ensure functionality even when power, phone and internet services are unavailable.”

The decision to purchase this system was prompted by a recommendation coming out of the Lantex simulation exercise held in 2009 which underscored the need to provide public notification for persons who are indoors and to provide this type of notification for schools and other critical facilities.

The system is expected to be in place by the end of March and to be fully tested in a national simulation exercise planned for March as well. Once fully installed monthly tests of the units will be performed.