The procession of Atlantic storms – including Ophelia, about 800 miles off the coast of the Azures and moving west on Tuesday – will likely continue through the end of hurricane season on Nov. 30.  Winter weather will soon be rolling in as well, with the heaviest snow storms and icy conditions traditionally occurring in this area from mid-December to early February.

With those circumstances in mind, a good question community members should ask themselves is, “How will I know if immediate action is required because something bad weather-wise is heading our way?”

The answer is Fort Lee’s Mass Warning and Notification System, technically known as AtHoc. It’s a tool the Installation Operations Center uses to quickly and effectively distribute important and potentially lifesaving information during moments of crisis, whether natural or manmade.

Out of the emergency notification devices used at Fort Lee, AtHoc is the most versatile with its capability of establishing contact via text, talk, email or computer popup alerts. Any of those by itself would not be as effective – a desktop warning sent to all government computer users on the installation, for example, won’t reach those away from their desk. Collectively, though, the multiple methods of communication offer greater assurance that all enrolled individuals will be reached.

The Fort Lee AtHoc system also can prioritize the methods of alert based on the scenario, and users receiving the alerts have the ability to provide responses to acknowledge receipt of the message as well as provide additional status information if requested by the system operator.  Furthermore, AtHoc allows the IOC to send targeted alerts to a portion of the installation if a post-wide response is not necessary.

Only Common Access Card holders can register for AtHoc. According to the newly released Department of Defense Instruction 6055.17, “DoD Emergency Management Program,” all military, civilian and contractor personnel whose normal place of duty is on an installation or in a defense department facility must ensure their contact information (personal and work cellphone, landlines, email, etc.) are entered into AtHoc. 

For AtHoc to work effectively, individuals will need to self-register at any CAC-enabled computer on Fort Lee.  Users will insert their CAC and log-in to the computer as usual. Once the home screen has loaded, the individual should click on the little triangle on the right side of the start menu bar. A collection of hidden icons will appear. Click on the purple globe, and then select “Access Self Service.”  Add or edit information under the tabs My Info, Devices and Locations.  When finished, click “Save” to complete registration.

Any questions about enrollment can be directed to Diego Reynoso at (804) 734-7903. Computer issues – like a missing AtHoc purple globe icon – must be resolved by the organization’s government network administrator.

In addition to AtHoc, Fort Lee has several other systems that help to ensure everyone who lives, works, trains or travels the installation is notified quickly during an emergency. The installation is equipped with an exterior big voice loudspeaker system that sends multidirectional messages throughout the base. This is designed for those outside of a structure to hear the warning message and take appropriate action, such as seeking shelter. Many buildings on post also have interior voice networks that include features like flashing lights, a warning alarm and local messaging for fire and other emergencies.

Leaders on Fort Lee also receive emergency notification through LeeKey email and are encouraged to distribute this information to their subordinates.  Finally, the IOC’s status update hotline, at (804) 765-2679, or the Fort Lee Facebook page are good ways to find information about early releases, delays in opening, closures, or hazardous road conditions. 

Ultimately, access to a multitude of media sources – especially AtHoc – will ensure every community member stays informed and receives timely notification during an emergency.