Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor
Soldiers to impending danger at Contingency Operating Locations (COL)
Freedom and Liberty took a significant step forward recently.
DES Operations Captain Robert
Stapel checks the new Mobile Mass Notification System at
Contingency Operating Location Freedom. (Photo
by Tom Michele)
Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) has installed a Mobile Mass
Notification System (MMNS) at each of the COLs to announce potential
Operations Captain Robert Stapel said the system is primarily in place
to alert Soldiers to possible severe weather, particularly tornadoes.
included in the audio announcement is an "all-clear" signal,
a chime for testing that is conducted Wednesdays, and a public address
capability that would be a live audio message from a dispatcher at the
potential exists to program additional messages if desired.
is a dramatic improvement over the former notification process,"
Stapel said. "Prior to this, notification was made to Range
Control on a radio or landline telephone or Soldiers’ radios. Now
the police dispatcher hits a button on his control panel, and the
message is broadcast."
said the new system is about the size of a water buffalo and is
capable of being moved by a light-duty pickup truck.
operates on a diesel engine-driven generator or by plugging it into a
public utility electric system. Inside a cabinet is the computer and
radio receiving and transmitting equipment. Atop a pole are the
speakers aimed in a 360-degree direction. Above the speakers is the
receiving antenna, up to about 30 feet in height.
radio system operates on multiple frequencies, similar to a pager
system, each frequency programmed to the specific message to be
broadcast. It’s just a matter of the dispatcher at the police
department front desk actuating the right button," Stapel said.
radio signal is converted into the prerecorded message that is
broadcast," the Operations Captain said. "Any number of
different messages may be programmed into the system and used when
needed. The option to transmit live and directly from the dispatch
console may be used to announce specific instructions, such as for
rallying people to a particular staging area. It is mostly for
impending severe weather although it may be used for virtually any
situation that would require mass notification at remote
primary goal of the MMNS is to ensure the safety of Soldiers at the
COLs," Stapel said. "So far the system has worked well. We
had one glitch when a switch got stuck in the open position and a
message continually repeated itself, and we have had to adjust the
frequencies. It has performed beyond our expectations and all but
eliminated having to send a patrol officer out to the area to alert
are still exploring ways and audio aspects where it will work better
in the dense tree environment that is part of the fort," Stapel
said. "Wind also plays a factor in hearing the message. Overall
the new system is a dramatic improvement over what we had
McCoy’s existing external mass notification system, located in the
cantonment area, plays bugle calls, provides weather alerts, chimes,
public address, and all clear.
external mass notification system has the addition of six bugle calls
automatically programmed into it, First Call, Reveille, Assembly,
Retreat to the Colors, Tattoo and Taps.
old and the new systems complement one another well," Stapel
(Michele is a
public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc.,
contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)