In the interest of protecting community members, the Hilliard Police Department and the Franklin County EMA used the Universal Communication System (UCS) by Twenty First Century Communications to alert citizens to stay inside their homes and lock their doors during a hostage crisis that occurred in early April.
A man facing decades in prison escaped custody after overpowering a guard with a homemade knife.
After stealing a car, taking the owner on a harrowing three-hour ride, robbing two banks and leading police on a chase ending in a crash in the historical district of Hilliard, the 34 year-old man kicked open the door of a business and took a 42 year-old Columbus woman hostage. After 2 hours of negotiation the hostage was released and the suspect was apprehended.
During negations Hilliard police contacted the Franklin County EMA asking them to use the UCS automated notification system to alert residents within a half mile of the situation. Art Baker, Emergency Manager for Warning of the Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, called into the Twenty First Century Communications Help Desk. With the assistance of Client Manager Jessica Ocheltree, a notification campaign was launched within minutes. A total of 287 residences and businesses were notified. Hilliard police chose not to explain to the citizens what type of situation was developing but to stay inside, lock their doors and tune into the radio or TV for more information.
Baker felt that the citizens appreciated being informed of the situation and looking back felt that it would have been better if citizens had been notified earlier in the situation. When asked about using UCS in similar situations in the future Baker commented “This is a great way to make a mass notification in a short time. It will be used again.”
UCS was cooperatively purchased in 2004 by the city of Columbus, the Ohio State University and the Franklin County EMA. After installing UCS, the county performed a test of the system, successfully calling over 38,000 residents in a 15 minute period. The system was also used to contact senior citizens with safety tips during a 2006 summer heat wave. Other counties and business have used UCS to assist in successfully recovering a missing child, to notify critical care customers regarding power outages and to warn customers of fraud attempts.
About the Universal Communications System
The Universal Communications System (UCS) developed by Twenty First Century Communications offers a comprehensive vendor-hosted, web-enabled message delivery and response service. The system can communicate via land line, cell phone, fax, pager, PDA and e-mail. UCS makes available on demand the largest and fastest out-dial and inbound automated telecommunication platform in North America. With UCS, organizations can reach any number of individuals and groups of any size.
About Twenty First Century Communications, Inc.
Twenty First Century Communications located in Columbus, Ohio is the leader in helping companies find solutions for their call handling needs. Established in 1989 by founder, James Lehr Kennedy, Twenty First Century developed its first service, High Volume Call Answering (HVCA®) to answer all calls for utilities during outages. Today, electric utilities, representing more than 67% of U.S. households, currently use Twenty First Century services. Our services are used every day by more than 120 clients representing utilities of all sizes, all levels of government, commercial businesses, public safety agencies and health care facilities. In 2006, Twenty First Century processed more than 29 million call minutes. Today, Twenty First Century Communications is the leader in hosted crisis communication services.
For more information please visit Twenty First Century online http://www.tfcci.com.
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