From the Office of Governor Robert Bentley
MONTGOMERY – With the first anniversary of the April 27th tornadoes approaching, First Lady Dianne Bentley today joined with representatives from Safe America Foundation, Verizon Wireless, and Ready Alabama, to release a public service announcement regarding a way to prepare Alabamians for future emergencies.
“Text First, Talk Second” is an initiative that encourages people to text one another during the aftermath of severe weather or a disaster in the hopes of keeping phone lines free for the most urgent of calls. This is because non-essential calls often shut down wireless phone service and prevent 911 calls from getting through. Non-essential calls can also prevent emergency personnel from being able to communicate with each other. In fact, just a single one-minute phone call takes up the same bandwidth as 800 short SMS text messages.
Also, unlike phone calls, text messages can get through to people, even when networks are congested. Also, even if it gets a “busy signal” on its first try, the text system will continue to try to deliver your message. This makes text messaging perfect for sending messages like “R U OK?” and “I M OK.”
“After the storms ravaged Alabama last spring, we all realize the importance of having an established plan in place for safety,” Mrs. Bentley said. “Together with Safe America, I am promoting the ‘Text First, Talk Second’ campaign, a program that utilizes text technology to contact loved ones during emergency situations. A text message will go through before a call, so if my generation and others will learn to text, not only will we be able to reach one another sooner, we will also keep phone lines open for other emergency calls.”
The Safe America Foundation was chartered in 1994 to partner with corporate, government, public and private sector organizations, and other nonprofits, to improve the safety awareness and preparedness of Americans nationwide. Preparedness for a national catastrophe, whether manmade or natural, took on a new meaning after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the foundation responded to meet the needs of Americans.
Safe America seeks to build truly safer communities by forming public/private partnerships that can rapidly respond to emerging critical issues and to protect Americans from future disasters through common preparedness. CEO Len Pagano said texting is the most efficient means of communicating during a disaster, especially when phone lines may be busy or down.
“In today’s environment, where emergencies seem to be always around the corner, it’s critical for people to be prepared to stay in touch when phones lines are overtaxed,” Pagano said. “Texting is a good alternative to voice communications and is 800 times more likely to connect you. That’s why we’ve made it such an important part of our Foundation’s preparedness messaging.”
Verizon Wireless, which has partnered with Mrs. Bentley on a prior public service project, has a dedicated commitment to Alabama’s storm recovery. A corporate sponsor of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s Bama Rising Fund for Tornado Recovery, Verizon Wireless saw “Text First, Talk Second” as a perfect opportunity to further its community support.
“Verizon Wireless works year-round to prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies so our customers can count on their wireless service when they need it most,” said Jonathan LeCompte, president – Georgia/Alabama region, Verizon Wireless. “We are honored to be working with First Lady Bentley to help Alabamians know how to best communicate with each other in the midst of a crisis.”
Jon Mason, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, believes that by partnering with Safe America, Alabamians can practice more efficient means of coordinating an emergency response.
“The confusion immediately following disasters can lead to misinformation and slower response times for those in need,” Mason said. “By communicating with your friends and family by text instead of a call, you can help first responders and volunteer groups serve more survivors.”
The public service announcement is available on the FTP site http://bit.ly/Jbc4qo
Right click on the version needed, and download it to a desktop or computer for replay.
The public service announcement should run through April 30, 2012.