– If disaster strikes at night, I’m done – Dagsavisen

– If disaster strikes at night, I’m done – Dagsavisen

Torild Finsæther (64) lives in Borkenes, outside Harstad. She was born with a hearing impairment and lives alone. In February, the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness and the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Affairs sounded an emergency alert on a mobile phone, using cellular broadcast technology.

Emergency alerts should be used to notify the population of acute and dangerous incidents that threaten life and health. An emergency alert contains information about what is happening and what you must do to protect yourself.

For people with a hearing or visual impairment, disaster warning signals are sent via vibration or – if the phone supports it – as an audio message.

– But what about the night? Then I will never receive the notification. I can’t sleep with the phone under the pillow either, Tauride tells Dagsavisen.

Because if a disaster happens at night, and an emergency alert is sent on the mobile phone, hearing impaired people like Torild won’t get it at night.

– If a disaster happens at night, I’m done.

She says it scares her.

– I managed well, but now I think it’s scary, you say.

– Many of us suffer from hearing loss.

Many disturbing messages

Deaf Association General Secretary Peter Nudland says Tauride is not alone in feeling insecure with the new notification service.

– We have received many letters of concern from our members, he said.

We at the Deaf Association also care about the safety of our members. Until 2021, we had a well-functioning system with flexible alert, which notified us of catastrophic events or aircraft alerts. It also works at night, Nudland says, by shaking it and placing it under a pillow.

According to Store Norske Leksikon, it is estimated that there are 250,000-300,000 hearing-impaired people in Norway, of which 3,500-4,000 are deaf. Most hearing impaired people are elderly people who suffer from hearing loss due to age-related changes in the inner ear, auditory nerve, and central auditory pathways.

Turild says she feels a degree of fear in everyday life. Nor did she previously have the opportunity to be notified of emergencies, but after the war broke out in Ukraine, the uncertainty of what might happen became greater.

– It’s a breed. But I try not to think about it.

Due to a lack of funding, the Flex Alert System shut down in December 2021. Two months later, Russia attacked Ukraine, and war broke out.

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– We have been in the media a lot and have many cases about our members not feeling safe. Cellular broadcasting is used in several countries of the world, and in Norway, a message appears on the mobile phone that there is a flight alert. Most hearing impaired people have some hearing, and they can hear the flight alarm during the day. But at night, when they have taken out the stethoscope or other aids, it is not possible to realize that the mobile phone is on alert.

scary

Emergency alerts on mobile phones are an addition to the channels already used to inform the public. In Norway, we have long had population alerts via tornadoes, which loudly indicate that you should look for information.

On the DSB website, they write that in the event of a serious accident, important information will be shared on many channels, such as radio, television, online newspapers, authorities’ websites and on social media.

Turild says she doesn’t use the computer much at night. So, she wonders if there is a way for the authorities to notify her if something happens in the middle of the night.

– Could they come to the door, let me in and let me out? she wonders.

– How did you receive an earlier notice?

– I have not had serious disasters, so there was no alarm. And I never heard the flight alarm, but I feel the risk of disaster is greater now. We live in a scary time. This is why I feel insecure.

Since she lives alone, there is no one in the immediate vicinity who can help her in an emergency.

– I have a son who is 20 minutes away, but he commutes between Harstad and Tromsø. Plus, I have a friend I’ve talked to, and she’ll get you a key so she can help me out if something catastrophic happens. After the war broke out, I started to think a little bit. I think it’s simply scary that, in an emergency, most people think of themselves first, says Torild.

Never heard of

Noddeland says the Deaf Association has been in contact with DSB several times, with the desire to be included in the process of developing the new notification system.

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– Here we did not participate as much as we would like. They are responsible for developing the cellular broadcast system used for emergency alerts. I have fire alarms and a doorbell, and I’m a father to two young children. The system also alerts you if children wake up during the night, it will vibrate to let you know. However, the emergency notification service is not connected to the home notification system. We want to put in a good system that works 24/7. To achieve this, the cellular broadcast system must communicate with the aids and notification systems currently in use.

Many members of the Deaf Association put their cell phones under their pillows at night.

– Is there anything you would recommend?

– No, we do not advise our members to do so. Personally, I do because we don’t have a system in place, so it’s the best we have at the moment. Unfortunately. The moment we’re talking now, I’m totally dependent on someone else telling me the alarm is going off. We hear that members involved their children in giving notice, which is completely false. Children should not have to take care of their parents. When we can’t be notified of any catastrophic events, it takes away a lot of our independence.

– What do you think about supplying permission, who involved his neighbor?

You should not depend on others if you are deaf or hard of hearing. But the way technology goes today, so will we be. What Torild is doing isn’t uncommon, but it shouldn’t be. It is important to have a good notification system that works, so that we are not dependent on others.

Emergency alert on mobile phone

  • Emergency alerts should be used to notify the population of acute and dangerous incidents that threaten life and health. An emergency alert contains information about what is happening and what you must do to protect yourself.
  • It will initially be a national notification service, but will eventually be developed locally.
  • When you receive an emergency alert, the phone will vibrate and make a loud siren-like sound.
  • A short text will appear on the screen informing you What happens And What should you do. If your phone supports text-to-speech, you can read the message out loud.
  • When you receive an emergency alert, stop the alert, read or listen to it, and follow the advice.
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Source: NTB/DSB

– When much more

Henriette Magnussen is a senior advisor in the Communications Division of the Directorate of Community Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and explains that emergency alerts are based on so-called cellular broadcast technology.

– This means that notifications are sent as a wireless signal to all mobile phones in the area. Emergency alerts technology is built into most modern cell phones. That way, Nødvarsel will communicate within a few seconds and to far more recipients than today’s tornado warning, which consists only of an audio signal, she says.

When asked how safe people with hearing impairments feel when they cannot receive alerts at night, she replied that, like other notifications and alarms on cell phones, emergency alerts on cell phones can be amplified or diverted by various aids. Connected to a mobile phone, eg pillows or bed rocking.

– Regarding the notification test in June, when we will also test emergency alerts for the population, we also plan to test different utilities in order to gain more practical experience with them, she says.

Emergency alerts are based on the international CAP (Common Alert Protocol) standard. This means that third-party systems will be able to receive and process the emergency notification and arrange this for various coordination and technical assistance. Emergency alerts are currently very new here in Norway, but we encourage relevant market players to explore the possibilities that lie within.

Do the fire and/or rescue services in this country have a registry of visually or hearing impaired people, so that they can carry out awareness activities in the event of a disaster and rescue those who may need it?

– For privacy reasons, there are very limited opportunities to obtain a detailed history of citizens with disabilities. However, the municipalities have an overview of who is receiving help at home – and therefore will also need help during a crisis. In general, the DSB encourages everyone, including those with disabilities, to ensure good self-preparation. It is important to talk to, for example, family, friends, neighbors and helpers about how the crisis is affecting you and what you may need help with. Magnussen says an individual should think about their own needs and plan accordingly.

Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

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