Caribe Wave, Puerto Rico Seismic Network
Recent Deadly Tsunamis
Tsunamis don’t happen often, but when they do, the damage can be catastrophic.
2004: Boxing Day Tsunami
It killed more than 230,000 people in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Samoa, Haiti, Chile and Japan Tsunamis
More recently, thousands of lives were lost due to the tsunamis in Samoa (2009), Haiti (2010), Chile (2010, 2014, 2015) and Japan (2011).
Learning From Tragedy
Thousands of miles away from these disasters, government officials, researchers and organizations along the Caribbean coast — including the Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN) – now strive to learn from them. They recognize they’re in a race against the clock to not only perfect their tsunami early warning systems, but also employ a fully-integrated mass notification system.
Choosing the Right Mass Notification System
In March 2018, PRSN officials participated in the annual disaster drill, CARIBE WAVE in an effort to improve the region’s early tsunami warning system and ultimately learn how to minimize loss of life when such disasters occur. Its major objective is for countries, emergency management stakeholders, and communities in tsunami-prone zones to test, validate, and update their tsunami response plans.
PRSN officials used their participation in CARIBE WAVE as a chance to integrate a mass notification system into their emergency preparedness plan.
According to Angel Feliciano, PRSN director, it was important to identify a mass communication solution that was not only dependable, but easy to incorporate with their current reporting tools.
Feliciano and His Team Ultimately Selected Regroup Mass Notification
“The most important reason we chose Regroup was because it offers a really easy integration with our system and technical support when we need it. The client services team is available 24/7, and the product development team facilitated our integration to make it as easy as possible for us.”
The Importance of Seamless Mass Alerting Capabilities During Emergencies
For Caribe Wave 2018, Three Different Scenarios Were Simulated – Including a Magnitude 7.6 Earthquake in Puerto Rico.
During the exercise, PRSN used its 25 seismic stations to register the simulated earthquake and relay the vibrations to its data collection center, which then auto-triggered the Regroup system to send a mass notification to PRSN’s targeted recipient lists.
In a real-life natural disaster, it would be crucial for PRSN’s mass alert system to function successfully, as the organization’s emergency distribution lists consist of hundreds of emergency officials and first responders who would be needed to assist and rescue citizens as quickly as possible.
“A mass notification platform like Regroup is key to minimizing the damage from catastrophic events such as tsunamis,” said Feliciano. “Unlike big earthquakes – which are impossible to predict – we can analyze the tsunami-prone areas and people can be alerted right after an earthquake, before the tsunami occurs. It provides valuable time for people to get to safety, and for emergency personnel to prepare for their response.”
Feliciano Also Noted the Variety of Ways Regroup’s System Allowed His Team to Disseminate Emergency Alerts
“Our preferred method has been a TTS (text-to-speech) call; however, Regroup also allows us to alert people with text messages and emails. Prior to Regroup, we had technical issues delivering texts to contacts’ cell phones, but their system is much more reliable.”
Robust Reporting Capabilities Crucial for Disaster Preparedness Plan Improvements
Regroup’s Comprehensive Reporting Capabilities Were Important to Feliciano and His Team
Prior to Regroup, the PRSN could disseminate emergency alerts, but they lacked any measurable insights that would allow them to make future improvements. One example is Regroup’s real-time analytics capabilities, which show delivery rates and statuses of critical messages, which allow PRSN to then take another course of action to reach all recipients if needed.
“Regroup offers excellent reporting tools that allow us to study and analyze how messages are being delivered and consumed by our users,” said Feliciano. “We can see which methods work best for notifying people, so we can be more prepared in the case of an actual tsunami.”
Making the Caribbean Safer
A tsunami early warning system depends on tsunami-detecting sensors and, just as importantly, a reliable mass communications infrastructure to alert emergency responders and at-risk populations as quickly as possible.
When Every Second Counts, Organizations Like PRSN are Choosing Regroup Mass Notification to Respond Faster and Make Their Region Safer in the Event of a Tsunami.
“Our mission at PRSN is to make the Caribbean safer and more prepared in the event a tsunami ever occurs here,” said Feliciano. “Our partnership with Regroup gives me confidence that we are more prepared than ever before, and lives would be saved through reliable early warnings.”