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(WBIR-Knoxville) East Tennessee experienced severe weather Thursday night. With severe weather, the University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC) needs to alert staff as quickly as possible in order to keep patients safe.

UTMC said they are achieving that through emergency alert messages that are impossible to ignore.

More than two years ago, UTMC adopted new software from Netpresenter. Then, about a year and a half ago they implemented a different part of the application--the emergency alert server.

After UTMC issues an alert, it will appear on public facing video monitors, employee video monitors, and interactive screen savers that are installed on 6,000 PCs. Prior to this, they would use email and intercom announcements.

"Communication has become much more effective. It doesn't matter where you are within the organization, you know that there is an alert going on," said Jeromy Welch, UTMC internal communications coordinator.

According to Welch, after the Joplin EF5 tornado in 2011, hospitals nationwide re-evaluated emergency alert policies.

Since installing the software, UTMC has used the system. UTMC communicates with about 7,000 people on a daily basis, covering more than 2 million square feet of space.

"We've got very clear messaging. So our team members know exactly what to do to protect themselves and protect their patients," said Jim Ragonese, UTMC public relations manager. "We get that to them right away instead of taking several minutes. And you know, timing is critical in an urgent situation."

According to Welch, if there is a severe thunderstorm watch, UTMC will not use the system but will still notify staff.

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