During an emergency event, the ability for an organization to quickly and accurately communicate with staff and stakeholders is one of the most critical aspects of emergency response.
The North Dakota Department of Health provides a mass notification platform, free of charge, for local public health units, hospitals and long term care facilities. This service is provided regionally throughout the state by Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) staff.
Participating organizations are responsible for keeping their contact lists up to date. There is no restrictions on the number of lists your organization may utilize. Lists may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- All staff.
- Certain staffing groups, such as administration, or direct care.
- Individuals making up an ICS or response team.
- Next of kin.
If you are interested in learning more about this mass notification system and how your organization can benefit from this service, contact Crystalynn Kuntz (701-355-1546) or Kalen Ost (701-355-1556) for more information or to schedule an appointment. This handout can be printed, and provides information about this service.
If your organization would like to utilize this mass notification system, EPR staff will contact you with a spreadsheet form that will contain your organization’s contact list information. EPR staff will work with you to ensure the list is properly formatted before list testing can commence.
Organizations are asked to share this process with individuals on contact lists. Each message delivery method (email, text and phone calls) can be confirmed. This confirmation provides analytics to help ensure overall list quality.
We ask that you keep the theme of the messaging emergency-based (Examples include, but are not limited to pandemic, active shooter, shelter in place, flood, fire or weather response). However, when testing messages, your message may be less formal.
When you are ready for your messaging to be sent out, you must provide the following information:
- Your message. Please note that for any messaging outside of the default testing message, you must provide the messaging.
- List name. This list name will contain some abbreviations that will help tell an individual what regional organization’s list is being utilized. An example of a list name is LPU-SWC-BBPH All Staff.
- Message delivery preference. Messages can be sent out immediately or scheduled for a specific day/time in the future.
- Originating phone number. Most facilities utilize their organization’s main number.
- Preferred delivery methods. The mass notification system delivers messages to email, text and phone systems. You may choose to deliver to all, or any combination of delivery methods.
Please note that pictures (maps, locations, etc.) can accompany your messaging, if you so desire.
If you need to send a message to one or more of your contact lists during traditional business hours (traditionally Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.), you will contact your SWC EPR representative with the five items needed to complete the messaging. If you do not receive a response from your SWC EPR representative in an acceptable time frame, you may contact State Radio (701-328-9921) and ask for the Department of Health Case Manager. This individual can also push messaging to your contact lists.
If you need to send a message to one or more of your contact lists due to an emergency, you may contact EPR staff between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you need to send a message to one or more of your contact lists outside of normal business hours (traditionally from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. on Monday through Friday, weekends or holidays), you must contact State Radio at (701) 328-9921 and ask for the Department of Health Case Manager. You will then need to give this individual the five components necessary to complete the messaging.
In the event you contact the Department of Health Case Manager and that individual sends a message to one of your contact lists, you will not need to contact EPR staff. These individuals are added to your contact lists and will be notified, as with your staff.
While there is not a monetary cost associated with utilizing this mass notification system, organizations will be required to maintain their contact lists and test them at least 4 times annually.
List tests are conducted on a semi-blind basis to better simulate an emergency situation. Your organization will be contacted by EPR staff about the list test. Your organization will be able to pick the week you’d like to have the list tested. EPR staff will then conduct the list test between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., on a random day, Monday through Friday. Test messages may be scheduled outside of the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. window, if the organization so chooses.
Test messages will be designated as such in the subject line and messaging. If an organization does not provide their own test messaging, a default message will be utilized:
This message is a test.
This is a North Dakota Health Alert Network TEST Message. Had this been a real emergency, information would have been shared about an incident and/or how to proceed.
This message is a test.
Presently the mass notification system does produce analytics reports for list tests or messages sent. Upon request, we can send you these analytics reports as PDF files.
Crystalynn KuntzEmergency Preparedness Regional CoordinatorPhone: 701-355-1540
Kalen OstEmergency Preparedness Information SpecialistPhone: 701-355-1556
500 E. Front Ave.
Bismarck, ND 58504
P.O. Box 5503
Bismarck, ND 58504
Phone: 701-355-1540Fax: 701-221-6883