PRESS RELEASE                                                 

Madison, WI - Sept 8, 2005

Communications Failures Could Have Been Averted.

“There was a 3-4 hour delay after the levees were breached, where people could have
been alerted to the coming danger and resources mobilized simultaneously,” said Kendall
Post, an expert in disaster communications.  “It’s nearly impossible to evacuate people
and mobilize resources when you cannot reach people reliably.  With a modern system
and a National Master Plan we could have significantly reduced the consequences.”

For over 8 years, Alert Systems Inc., of Madison, Wisconsin has undertaken a
comprehensive grass-roots emergency communications study to address the
weaknesses in the existing systems.  Emergency management (EM) experts were
interviewed from across the country, as well as over 150 Emergency Managers attending
FEMA training sessions. Mr. Post reviewed Emergency Operations Centers in five states,
undertook working group sessions involving other experts and participated with focus
groups involving the deaf, the blind and other groups associated with the Americans with
Disabilities Act.  

“We just weren’t aware of exactly what the situation was.”  We have heard these words
often since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.  It’s axiomatic that access to
relevant & useful information is at the core of crisis management.  “In fact”, Post says,
“effective public warning is the linchpin of an effective emergency management system”.

Others involved in communications agree.  Dr. Alan Pearce, a former Chief Economist of
the FCC recently stated that, "With an infrastructure capable of delivering Public Warning
without prejudice, the findings of Mr. Post should be acted on immediately.  We must be
able to set performance goals and act on them."

For the past two years Mr. Post has been working with advocacy and working groups to
educate the public about the barriers that prevent a resolution of the public warning
problem. His views have gained acceptance in government agencies in the US and
Canada. "We understand the problems and we have developed a comprehensive
roadmap to success, said Post.  What we need now is a willingness to implement that

What happened in New Orleans?  Using every notification means available, it took three
to four hours to notify a reduced and sensitized population of the levee breach.  But by
then, the rising waters had made evacuation impossible for many, especially the most
economically and physically disadvantaged. What could have helped is an effective public
warning system capable of delivering critical information within seconds simultaneously, in
real time, throughout the affected areas of the city.

Post’s studies and those of others demonstrate that over the past fifty years little has
changed in Emergency Management.  In many parts of the US and Canada, emergency
management services are delivered by professionals who rely upon “Cold War”
technology to deliver messages within their communities. Even at this level, community
systems are not integrated and mutual aid efforts are slowed because of technology
failures. Public Alerting is left to sirens, local radio and television and auto-dial telephone
systems.  A fundamental new and innovative approach is demanded.

“The technology exists to warn 85% of an affected population in 90 seconds. We could
have simultaneously warned people in the middle of the night throughout the affected
areas of New Orleans,” said Post.   This approach would have warned about the dike
failures and the resulting flooding and provided alternative emergency evacuation
routing. We could have created an informational thread that warned people of
developments after television, radio, telephone, and electricity went out.  Responder
mobilization would have been immediate and good intelligence would have been available
to all levels of government.  Those in Washington and throughout the affected states
would have the same information at the same time.  Effective communications may have
alleviated substantial amounts of the misery we are now seeing and will continue to see
throughout the Gulf Coast region.  Post cautions, “ We must establish the performance
goals and lay the foundation for effective public warning immediately.”

Communications Failures Could Have
Been Averted
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