When snow and ice blow or tornadoes make their way through southwestern Ohio, emergency notifications often light up the phones of those who work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. But, if employees don’t update their information in a new system before Feb. 22, they may be the last to know when emergencies hit the base.
“It’s mandatory for military and some civilian employees to provide after-hours emergency contact information,” said Master Sgt. Andrew Fraser, Command Post Operations NCO-in-charge. “But more importantly, it allows them to receive notifications that affect them and their jobs and so it benefits them in that way.”
Fraser says it’s easy to update information into the new Wright-Patterson emergency mass notification system, commonly referred to as AtHoc. Users should look on the desktop of their unclassified government computer to find the white globe with purple ring icon in the system tray – the old version of AtHoc is a purple globe which should not be used.
Right-clicking on the white globe and selecting “Access Self-Service” will open a browser window where users can input work and personal email addresses and phone numbers, select if they’re members of groups, such as the Emergency Operations Center or Crisis Action Team, and can even add contact information for their family members, so they will receive notifications as well.
After updating their information, users won’t notice much difference in the way AtHoc works, except perhaps an end to asking if co-workers have also received notifications or wondering why messages weren’t received.
“This update is more reliable, and we won’t have as many of the connectivity issues that we’ve had in the past. Prior to this update, AtHoc ran on a server and now it’s more cloud-based, providing better consistency,” said Master Sgt. Todd Wireman, Air Force Materiel Command, Command and Control Operations Training and Standardization manager.
Besides reliability, the new AtHoc will allow for all AFMC bases to connect with the each other’s systems, as well as commands that have historically been left off Wright-Patterson notifications due to technical limitations, such as the Air Force Institute of Technology. When the new system goes in effect, AFIT staff and students will receive the same notifications as the rest of the Wright-Patterson community, according to Wireman.
After updating contact information using a government computer, users can download the Blackberry AtHoc app from either the Apple or Google app stores. After opening the app, users should enter the personal email address they provided into the app and then verify that email address by clicking on the link in an email that they will receive.
When prompted whether to open the link in the AtHoc app, users should agree. Users will then be asked to enter their organization’s code. For Wright-Patterson, users should enter “WPAFB,” without quotes. The system will then connect the user to Wright-Patterson’s AtHoc system through the app. Currently, the app serves as a way to receive messages through AtHoc, but an expanded feature set is planned for the future.
Users who don’t update their information in the new AtHoc system before Feb. 22 will stop receiving all emergency notifications from the base, according to Fraser.
If the white globe icon is missing from the system tray, the user should contact his or her Communications Focal Point or submit a trouble call ticket to have the new AtHoc installed through the VESD shortcut on the government computer’s desktop.
An Air Force-wide migration of the Emergency Mass Notification System requires all AFMC military (active and reserve) and civilians (non-bargaining) to provide an after-hours contact number or personal e-mail emergency notification information. Where bargaining obligations exist, compliance will be highly encouraged but not mandatory for bargaining unit employees until bargaining obligations have been satisfied.
Providing after-duty hours emergency notification information for contractors and non-appropriated personnel is strictly voluntary but is highly encouraged. Foreign nationals may also participate and may remove themselves from the EMNS at any time. Minimum registration fields include: member name, appropriate hierarchy (e.g., organization), duty status (e.g., active/reserve/civilian), work e-mail, and after-hours phone contact.