Burlington County’s emergency communications capabilities received a major boost this week with AT&T’s donation of 22 cell phones to be employed during harsh weather disasters and other emergencies.
The company is also providing the county with four data packages that can be used to activate and quickly program variable message boards, which are usually placed along highways to warn motorists of dangerous conditions, or direct them to an AM radio station broadcasting important updates.
“It goes without saying, during times of emergency, communications is key,” said Freeholder Mary Ann O’Brien in a recent release. “We appreciate AT&T’s generosity, and will certainly make good use of these phones and the software. This is a public/private partnership of the highest order.”
O’Brien joined with county emergency management officials in formally accepting the phones from Tiffany Baehman, vice president and general manager of AT&T greater Philadelphia region, during a brief ceremony held in the county’s administration building in Mount Holly.
This was not the first time that AT&T has donated phones to Burlington County’s Emergency Management Team, Baehman said. In the days pre-dating cellphones, the company supplied the county with mobile “bag phones.” Sometime after that, the county received a supply of cell phones—which now have outgrown their usefulness.
Public Safety Director Richard Dreby and Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Tuno said a number of the cell phones would be included in pre-assembled “Go Kits,” which includes the materials that personnel would need in the event of a power outage or evacuation of Central Communications.
“The AT&T phones will get plenty of use,” said Tuno. “In the past, we have actually lent them to local emergency coordinators. When land lines go out, these are easily deployed.”
The public safety department also has on order four electronic message boards. Tuno said that the data packages donated by AT&T will enable emergency management to change the message on the boards from remote locations, quickly and easily.