Emergency Evacuation Alert System For Deaf and Hard of Hearing Beachgoers
Beach Emergency Evacuation Light System
Los Angeles – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to implement a new beach safety initiative that would help deaf and hard of hearing beachgoers in case of emergency. The Beach Emergency Evacuation Light System (BEELS) is an alert system that combines both visual and audible warnings via a series of strobe signals as well as notifications in English and Spanish. Kristy Ramos, Director of CSD Works was invited to speak in addition to several other members of the Los Angeles deaf community, to reinforce the impact of the BEELS project.
“Today is a special day for all of us in the deaf and hard of hearing community,” said Ramos.
“BEELS was specifically designed for DHH beachgoers and as a deaf beachgoer, this is such an important step to make sure our needs are included in all evacuation services. I am proud to have been asked by the LA Board of Supervisors to speak at this significant event.”
The BEELS pilot is expected to rollout at Torrance Beach in November 2020 and will be installed at public facilities such as lifeguard towers and public restrooms. Signs will be posted throughout beaches and parking lots with explanations of the types of emergency the lights signify. The system has the capability of broadcasting warnings across all LA beaches with the system or can be sent to specific areas with isolated incidents.
“It creates a lot of challenges if everybody is running and they don’t know why,” says Randy Dean, safety officer for Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors.
The BEELS System is Dean’s brainchild. He has two hard of hearing children which led him to question how often deaf people visit the beach. Dean understood the importance of including the local deaf community in the development of this project and worked with several county agencies to design the system.
“Right now, all of the evacuations are designed for audible notifications, so lifeguards using their horns or sirens and voice commands,” said Dean.
“We want to pay attention to better ways to provide services and connections with the deaf community. I am glad to be working with Kristy and glad to provide that accessibility.”
Depending on how well the pilot at Torrance Beach goes, BEELS is expected to be implemented across all 20 LA beaches by 2022. TMG Systems, Inc., contracted to implement the systems, found that both the audio and visual components of the system successfully reached swimmers in tests. This is especially important given the frequency of freak accidents and other unexpected emergencies.
In addition to the BEELS System, the county has implemented a Video Relay Interpreting system at Marina Del Rey so that ASL-users can get on-demand sign language interpreting services using the internet. Lifeguards will also be receiving instruction in American Sign Language going forward.
CSD is proud of Kristy’s involvement and support of her local community. We encourage all our employees to give back to participate in projects and initiatives that improve the lives of deaf communities wherever they are. Special thank you to Los Angeles County and the local board for making the safety and security of its residents with hearing loss a priority.