Giant Voice Warns Installation Personnel of Impending Dangers

By Doug Wise

This article originally ran in the Aug. 14, 2008 edition of the Soundoff newspaper.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (Feb. 2, 2014) — The Department of Defense requires that all military installations have mass notification systems that can warn personnel on the installation of impending danger, be they natural disasters or man-made.

These systems require two main components: one for alerting personnel inside buildings and one for alerting personnel outdoors. The internal systems used on Fort Meade include the Fort George G. Meade Postmaster e-mail message bulletins and the telephonic alert system.

The outdoor system is the “Giant Voice” system that can be heard outdoors from anywhere on the installation. It is tested daily by playing the traditional military calls, which have become part of life for those residing or working on military installations.

Fort Meade’s Giant Voice system is a state of the art product, which is used on installations and in major metropolitan areas across the country. The system has nine siren tower locations spread around the installation to ensure that all installation personnel — including those in housing areas — can hear the announcements.

Instead of using just a series of sirens or horns, the system provides specific verbal instructions for individuals to follow. The system has six prerecorded messages, including a test message that can be activated and played on a moment’s notice. The system also has a public address feature that allows emergency response personnel to make live announcements, and enables them to react to any situation and provide instructions, which could save lives.

It is important that residents and those who come on the installation understand the system. If you hear the distinct hi-lo siren tone, that indicates you should pay attention and be prepared to listen for a verbal message with instructions, which will follow.

All prerecorded messages are set up to play three times consecutively such as siren-message, siren-message, siren-message. The prerecorded messages include:

* Severe weather: “This is a severe weather warning for Fort Meade. Residents should immediately take cover. Go inside and tune to a local TV or radio station for details.”

* Tornado warning: “Warning! This is a tornado warning for the Fort Meade area. Residents should immediately take cover. This is a tornado warning.”

* Chemical release warning/shelter in-place: “Chemical release. Stay inside buildings, and close windows and doors unless advised by authorities to evacuate area. Chemical release. Stay inside buildings, and close windows and doors unless advised by authorities to evacuate area.”

* Chemical release/evacuate: “Attention: There has been a chemical release in your area. Everyone should evacuate immediately.”

* All-clear announcement: “All clear! This is an all-clear announcement. The threat has passed. All clear!”

* Test /test-over message: “Attention! Attention! Stand by for a test of the emergency warning system. This is only a test!” or “Attention! Attention! This test of the emergency warning system is complete. If this had been an actual emergency, additional instructions would have been provided. This test is complete.”

Remember, Giant Voice is an outdoor notification system and not intended to alert individuals inside buildings. However, depending on the building’s location, some may be able to hear the announcements while inside.

Those inside buildings should not go outside to hear the announcement better; instead, they should check their internal communications modes for information. Going outside could result in exposing yourself to the dangerous situation.

The Giant Voice system is tested on the first Wednesday of each month at approximately 10 a.m.

Giant Voice

Senior Airman Lance Egan finishes replacing a blown speaker in a giant voice system Aug. 13, 2008, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. He is assigned to the 354th Communication Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder)

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