American Red Cross, Broward County Chapter, Uses AtHoc IWSAlerts in Exercise to Test Disaster Readiness Capabilities in Ft. Lauderdale Area

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Response Capabilities Testing Demonstrates Value of Network-centric Emergency Notification System for Volunteer Recall during Local or National Emergencies

AtHoc, Inc., the pioneer and leader in network-centric emergency notification systems, today announced that the American Red Cross, Broward County Chapter, successfully used AtHoc IWSAlerts(TM) as part of its recent Chapter Disaster Readiness Exercise and Evaluation. The exercise, conducted February 5-7, 2008, simulated the region's response to a hypothetical, multiple-unit flood in Broward County, Fl. The goal of the exercise was to evaluate the chapter's response plan and effectiveness and determine if it has the necessary human and material resources needed to respond to large-scale emergency events.

During the night of February 4, the Red Cross dispatch center received a call regarding the simulated flood. The emergency operations team used AtHoc IWSAlerts to trigger an emergency recall alert to over five hundred chapter volunteers requesting they respond immediately if available to help. Alerts were sent out by phone and email to the chapter volunteers, who were forewarned of the drill.

Communication services infrastructure is provided by integration between the AtHoc IWSAlerts management system and MIR3 Intelligent Notification technology. Volunteers received telephony notifications generated automatically using text-to-speech technology as well as corresponding emails with the equivalent message. In both cases, volunteers were able to reply to the alerts allowing emergency operators to determine who had received the alerts and whether they could volunteer to help.

During the exercise, which lasted through February 7, evaluators provided periodic variations in the scenario to test personnel response and evaluate material resources. At the end of the exercise, evaluators reviewed the response and identified strengths as well as areas for continued improvement. AtHoc IWSAlerts was cited as providing a vital initial communications channel during the "emergency" as it was able to quickly and effectively alert all volunteers and provide a feedback channel for their responses.

"The exercise is designed to allow us to plan for the type and level of support we would need in a similar scenario," said Aniko Bahr, emergency preparedness manager for the American Red Cross, Broward County Chapter. "It's an opportunity for us to evaluate whether or not we have the required resources to respond. The AtHoc IWSAlerts emergency notification system was a key asset in this exercise, and it helps us communicate effectively to our volunteers regardless of the situation."

Red Cross emergency operators use AtHoc IWSAlerts to alert personnel and volunteers via multiple and redundant means, including desktop alerts, email, cell and landline phones, all from a single, Web-based console. Operators can log into the password protected system, select a preconfigured emergency scenario, tailor it or create a scenario from scratch, then send out a consistent alert through all communication channels. Alerts reach all personnel within minutes, regardless of their location, and the system provides a feedback mechanism, allowing the emergency operators to track alert acknowledgements and responses from the recipients.

"The Red Cross fills an incredibly important role in responding during disasters and in reacting to their aftermath," said Frank Mahdavi, Chief Strategy Officer for MIR3. "It's exciting to participate in the organization's training exercises and see the value emergency alerting can provide in real emergency scenarios."

"We're delighted with the successful outcome of the exercise in Broward County," said Simon Berman, vice president of product marketing for AtHoc. "AtHoc IWSAlerts has been successfully used for exercises, but more importantly, it's been used for real emergencies. During the recent San Diego wildfires, our system was used by Broward County to request volunteers. Over 30 volunteers responded and 12 were subsequently deployed to the disaster area. It's an honor to be involved in helping the American Red Cross deliver on its mission to provide emergency assistance and disaster relief."

About AtHoc
AtHoc is a recognized leader in providing enterprise-class, network-centric emergency notification systems to military, government, and commercial organizations for physical security, force protection and personnel accountability. Millions of end users worldwide, in organizations such as the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, Hawaii State Civil Defense, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Boeing, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and eBay rely on AtHoc's unified management systems for their emergency alerting and critical communication needs. AtHoc has partnered with market leaders including Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Siemens, Avaya, Unisys, and others to bring these notification solutions to the public and commercial markets.

For more information on AtHoc, please visit http://www.athoc.com.

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Ivy Eckerman
AtHoc
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