Alabama First Lady Promotes “Text First. Talk Second.”™
First Lady Dianne Bentley and the Safe America Foundation stress use of text messaging during emergencies
Montgomery, AL (April 20, 2012) – First Lady Dianne Bentley of Alabama joined the Safe America Foundation today to encourage Alabamians to “Text First. Talk Second.”™ when letting those closest to them know they are okay after a disaster. At a press conference today at the Governor’s Mansion, the First Lady remembered those who lost their lives to the tornados which struck the Cotton State on April 27, 2011 and unveiled a new Public Service Announcement (click here to view) highlighting text messaging’s important safety use.
“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.”
Like most disasters, the tornados that stuck the Southeast in 2011 caused massive mobile phone service disruption. Mobile call volume simply overwhelmed provider capacity during these incidents. Preparedness experts universally agree that during an emergency and its immediate aftermath, communicating via SMS text messaging should be your first choice. This is because non-essential calls often shutdown wireless phone service and prevent 911 calls from getting through and emergency personnel being unable 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.
“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. 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,” commented Safe America President and CEO Len Pagano.
Also joining Safe America and the First Lady at the press conference were Verizon Wireless and the Governor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives.
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 YouTube http://youtu.be/m-du9ZZcl-c. It will also be distributed across the state of Alabama to local television stations for their use and should run through April 30, 2012.
Ms. Bentley’s work in raising awareness on this issue is part of the Safe America Foundation’s First Spouses Campaign – an effort to engage all First Spouses in emergency preparedness activities. First Spouses in the following states have already participated in the program: West Virginia, Kentucky, Washington, Colorado, Idaho, Arkansas, Puerto Rico, New Jersey, Iowa, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
About the Safe America Foundation
The Safe America Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit licensed by the state of
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