Using Red Alert For Emergency Notifications, Critical Alerts, And Mass Communication

Methodist Medical Center of Illinois (Methodist), now part of UnityPoint Health Methodist, was originally founded in 1900 with 20 beds and a school of nursing. Methodist is located in the heart of Peoria, Illinois, and includes a 330-bed hospital with almost 600 board-certified physicians. Methodist is committed to delivering outstanding healthcare, and takes pride in being patient driven, responsible, responsive, and ready to meet each of their patient’s needs.

Improving Patient and Staff Safety

To ensure the safety of their patients and staff, as well as their entire organization, Methodist wanted to be prepared for any type of situation that might arise. They chose Amtelco’s Red Alert system as a more efficient way to handle disaster conditions and various code calls to their call center. Red Alert enables them to quickly contact multiple people, without taking up the operators’ time.

Before using Red Alert, operators had to page each person. According to Jeri Cooley, Call Center Manager at Methodist, “You can only page one person at a time. And then they had to call back into the operator, who relayed what was going on. With Red Alert, we don’t have to do any of that.”

Customizable Critical Alerts

Methodist has Red Alert set up to speed their critical alert process in case there is ever a bomb threat, disaster situation, Code White (baby abduction), Code Orange (outside disaster), hostage situation, bioterrorism threat, and also for tornado watches and warnings. Another alert is set up for their Leadership team, which consists of their directors, vice presidents, and managers.

Methodist has special alerts for their off-site buildings, in case of a situation related to that specific location. They also use Red Alert for random drills, helping them be prepared if an actual emergency would happen.

Simple, Accurate, and Fast Emergency Notifications

When an emergency notification is needed, an operator can quickly trigger the alert by simply selecting a group to notify, and typing in the alert message. Red Alert then relays the message to the appropriate personnel. Methodist broadcasts messages to each recipient’s preferred contact method. This helps ensure that they can respond to each situation as quickly as possible.

Methodist uses Red Alert’s text-to-speech technology to automatically “read” the message the operator typed to each recipient’s phone. A typical alert would begin with “This is the Red Alert system,” and the called party would then hear the alert message the operator typed in.

“Just Say It” Speech Recognition

Using Amtelco’s “Just Say It” speech recognition, responders can speak their responses to questions, such as if they are inside or outside the building, and their estimated time of arrival. Depending on the type of alert issued, responders may be prompted for an ID and password, for extra security, and to ensure the correct person is receiving the message.

Jeri appreciates the flexibility of the system, which allows her to determine whether or not each type of notification requires a response from the person alerted. Jeri said, “Each alert is different. It depends if I want them to respond or not.” While a response and estimated time of arrival is needed for someone responding to a disaster, a response is not needed during a tornado watch, for example.

Real-Time Updates

During an active alert, Red Alert’s real-time monitor gives Methodist immediate feedback on the responses received. In addition to monitoring the alert progress in the call center, the Leadership team uses the real-time monitor, from various locations, to see the estimated time of arrival for each person. This instantaneous information is vital, helping them know when assistance will arrive, or if the need to alert more personnel. Since Red Alert is web-based, the real-time monitor can even be accessed from home, for example, if an alert happened in the middle of the night.

Comprehensive Reporting

Red Alert keeps track of very detailed reports for each alert issued. Jeri says, “It is nice that you can look at the reports and see that we did contact a cell phone, even though the recipient may say they didn’t receive it.”

Red Alert’s thorough reporting features also take care of Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) situations, where documentation is needed.

Mass Communications

The flexibility and power of the Red Alert system leads Jeri to continually think of innovative new uses for Red Alert. According to Jeri, “I’m going to use it for our manager meetings – which are often called right away at different levels. We’re going to build different levels into Red Alert so we can contact the groups of managers for a meeting they want ‘right now.’

In addition to Red Alert and “Just Say It” speech recognition, Methodist also uses Amtelco’s software for their call center. Several sensitive critical alerts that they prefer operators handle, such as Code Red and Code Blue alerts, are programmed into their operator console system.

Having Red Alert available to help in emergency situations, as well as everyday mass communications, has helped give everyone at Methodist more peace of mind. Jeri said, “The operators love it! We all love the system, and I was very happy to get it.”

Emergency Notifications

Our reliable emergency notification system helps to reduce response times by using automated notifications to communicate critical alerts.