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WINDOW ROCK  – On Tuesday, Navajo Nation Russell Begaye signed a contract to purchase a mass notification software to implement an emergency alert system for road closures, weather notifications, hazardous waste spills, wildland fires and AMBER Alerts.

“We always pray that we will never have another abduction, but we need this in place so that the whole Nation can be alert and help make sure that a child is recovered safely and quickly,” President Russell Begaye said. “I appreciate the work of everyone that made this possible. This is will make life safer here on the Navajo Nation.”

The Navajo Nation had previously negotiated the use of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah’s AMBER Alert system. However, the extra steps to run through all three states delayed notifications. 

“We appreciate the assistance the Navajo Nation received to issue alerts, but with this purchase, the Navajo Nation will have the ability to issue our own notifications immediately,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “We are proud to be the first tribe to have our own alert system now in place for the safety of our people.”

Once installed, the emergency alert system will officially be under the Navajo Division of Public Safety (NDPS) and managed by the Navajo Department of Emergency Management (NDEM). NDEM expects to have the software deployed for use by the end of the year.

“We’re very interested in improving the efficiency of services to the Navajo people,” Jesse Delmar, director of DPS said. “We’re glad to be a part of this and what we’re so proud of is never before has an independent tribe had this system to themselves.” 

With the mass notification software, the department is able to issue alerts for a variety of emergencies – not only for AMBER Alerts, which was the only emergency alert situation covered in the agreement between the tribe and states.

In May 2016, President Russell Begaye gave the directive for the Navajo Nation to secure an AMBER Alert system. Before the end of the year, the Navajo Nation signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to allow Navajo public safety officials the authority to access the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

With training and certification to use IPAWS, the next step in the process was to go through the procurement process and internal checks-and-balances of the Navajo Nation to purchase the software. Everbridge was the company ultimately chosen.

“In an emergency situation, time is of the essence to get information out to community members,” Harland Cleveland, acting NDEM director said. “Especially, in the instance of a child abduction, the public is our eyes and ears.”

According to Cleveland, with the President’s signing, the Navajo Nation will have the capability to push alerts over radio, television and text messaging to all 11 counties that fall within the Nation’s borders. In the future, efforts will be made to add a Blue Alert and Silver Alert to the system.