By Jason B. CutshawFebruary 10, 2010
FORT DRUM, N.Y. - To help inform Fort Drum's community in times of emergencies, there is a new "voice" for the people.
The post's Mass Notification System, also known as "Giant Voice," consists of a series of towers that have loud speakers mounted on top to notify the community of pending emergencies or natural disasters.
"The 'Giant Voice' purpose is that if there is ever an emergency on Fort Drum or the surrounding community and we need to do a mass alert to the public, we can alert everyone," said John Simard, Fort Drum force protection officer. "Not only if this is a pending situation, such as an incoming (storm) and we're informing people to seek shelter, or if an incident occurs immediately like an earthquake, we would be able to give instructions on what to do and where to go."
The system has pre-recorded messages that can be played at a moment's notice, or in certain situations, live messages can be played when necessary.
"If the garrison commander would like to make an announcement, all they have to do is make a phone call and speak to Fort Drum via the Giant Voice system," Simard said.
The first towers began going up in 2007, and the last will be operational by May.
"Right now, we have 21 towers strategically placed to give the greatest area of notification," Simard said. "They are located all over Fort Drum, including Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield to notify Soldiers on the flight line."
"Not only are there the 'Giant Voice' towers, but every inhabited building under construction on Fort Drum also has an indoor Mass Notification System. Whatever goes out over the towers also is announced inside the buildings," Simard said. "The system is ever-expanding. If you see a new building being constructed, that building will be a part of the Mass Notification System. It is also planned to have it added to older facilities as soon as possible."
The system is tested once a month to ensure its operational status and to make sure it is ready when needed.
"The system is tested at optimal times, as to not disrupt people during known times when people's schedules may be interrupted," Simard said. "For those living in Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes, the test schedule is given to them a year in advance so if someone is concerned about the schedule, it is posted in their local community centers."