Text-alert Service Keeps GRIC Members Informed, Speeds Up Emergency Response Times

Emma Hughes

Gila River Indian News


The Gila River Indian Community has been keeping its members, residents and employees informed and up-to-date using mailouts, flyers, mygilariver.com, social media platforms and, most recently, with mobile text-alerts regarding important information on what’s happening in the Community. 


“We needed a way to communicate with Community members quickly, especially to those who do not have social media and in our research, this is one of the best options,” according to Shannon Redbird, Community Relations Specialist for the Communications and Public Affairs Office (CPAO). 


The free text alert service began at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to send out urgent information on COVID-19 data, testing and vaccination clinic dates and reminders, including the most recent Community executive orders and updates. 


Nearly 1,600 individuals and counting have signed up to receive the alerts. The service ensures that announcements are delivered immediately, including public safety updates and links to additional services and information. 


The texts also provide crucial mass communication from departments like the Office of Emergency Management, Community (OEM), Services Department (CSD), Tribal Health Department (THD) and Gila River Health Care (GRHC).


“Communication is critical in an emergency and getting the necessary information out in a timely manner allows for consistency, reliability, uniformity and dependability,” said Bruce Harvey, director of the Office of Emergency Management.


In the event of an emergency or natural disaster, such as the severe storms the Community experienced last monsoon season that left several residents without power for nearly three days, notifications were sent out immediately with updates on shelter and power restoration notices.


“The text alert is a welcome and vital addition to our emergency notification system,” said Harvey.


District Service Centers have also used the service to send out notices on building closures and contact information during emergency events. It was also used to promote the mobile vaccination unit (MVU) events and most recently to aid in the Community’s distribution of at-home COVID-19 test kits. 


During a virtual Elders Concerns meeting on Feb, 9, CPAO, GRHC and CSD promoted and presented updates on the text-alert service and provided steps on how to sign up.


Elders who have already subscribed for the alerts said they’ve shared  information with other Community members, according to Laurie Thomas, director of the Community Services Department.


The elders have expressed confidence in the service as a “reliable source of information and support the awareness concerns and alerts for the Community,” said Thomas. 


To stay informed with GRIC updates, text the keyword “GRIC” to 855-202-9116 and you will receive a message confirming your subscription. Standard data rates and usage will apply and subscribers may opt out at any time.