Alert & Notification Systems

 

Alert & Notification Systems

During an emergency, alert and warning officials need to provide the public with critical, time-sensitive information to protect life and property. Generally speaking, part of the role of Elmore County EMA is having systems in place for sharing emergency public information such as: Weather related information; Evacuation Orders; Shelter-In-Place Orders; Hazardous materials (Haz-mat) releases; Dam Breach/Failure warnings; Boil Water Notices; Travel Advisory announcements; Disaster Assistance: Public Assistance (PA) and Individual Assistance (IA); Locations of Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs), Volunteer Reception Centers (VRCs) and Points of Distribution (PODs); Activation of Safer Places; Requests for donated goods; termination of flow of donated goods; Call for affiliated and unaffiliated volunteers. Elmore County EMA serves the public through use of a robust, multi-layered, redundant alert and notification system consisting of multiple components:

NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) – Known as The Voice of the National Weather Service (NWS), NOAA Weather Radio (NWR), provides updated weather information continuously, 24 hours a day, 365-days a year. Watches, warnings, advisories, forecasts, current weather conditions, and climate data are broadcast in three to five minute cycles on NWR stations. NOAA Weather Radio are useful anytime, but becomes more important during severe weather. The normal broadcasts are interrupted, and the focus is shifted to the local severe weather threat. Watches and Warnings are given the highest priority and are frequently updated. The NOAA Weather Radio transmitter located in Montgomery, Alabama, (162.400 MHz) serviced by the NWS Birmingham, serves Elmore County. Weather radios with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) capability may be programmed with just Elmore County’s SAME Code:  001051, to reduce the number of alerts received by the weather radio. Weather radios may be purchased at most electronics stores and online.

Civil Emergency Messages (CEM)A Civil Emergency Message (SAME CODE: CEM), which is transmitted through the NOAA Weather Radio system at the request of local authorities, is a warning created by the NWS that’s meant to warn of an in-progress or imminent significant threat(s) to public safety and/or property. Examples of such threats include, but are not limited to, a hazardous materials release or a dam failure.

 

Elmore County EMA Website – We’ve strived to build a website that connects the citizens of Elmore County with the most accurate, timely, and useful information available to help build an informed, resilient Elmore County. The website includes features such as: active incident alerts; road conditions; the Safer Places Program (with real-time locational/activated sites map); user-friendly navigation; social media sharing; a “Just- In-Time” video training library; and emergency/suspicious activity reporting. The website also features numerous links and information on topics such as: current weather conditions; active Travel Advisory announcements; local training and outreach opportunities; individual, family, and business emergency preparedness tools; and programs offered through the EMA, such as the Yellow Dot Program and other volunteer opportunities.

As is, the website is informative and robust. However, we urge citizens to check back frequently for updates and additions as the site continues to grow with additional features and information. Your feedback and comments are welcome by calling the Elmore County EMA Office at 334-567-6451.

 

All-Hazards Outdoor Warning Siren System & Weather Message Polygon Warning System – This siren system consist of 64 sirens countywide that are designed to alert citizens who are outdoors of an imminent hazard and prompt them to seek shelter and additional information about the threat.  Sirens are tested on the first Wednesday of each month, weather permitting. Through the use of a commercial polygon warning system (Weather Message) in Elmore County, sirens have been grouped geographically into seven (7) separate zones. The National Weather Service (NWS) is the sole authority for issuance of warning notifications. Once the NWS issues a tornado warningall sirens within each zone located within that polygon warning area will be activated automatically. When activated, the tone should be sounded for 3-5 minutes, re-sounding every 10-15 minutes for the duration of the threat (warning period). Action steps for those hearing an outdoor warning siren are to seek sturdy shelter and additional information on the nature of the threat, including timing, location, and severity.

 

SwiftReach™ Swift911™ Emergency Notification Service – The SWIFTREACH™ SWIFT911™ Emergency Notification Service was employed in early June 2013 as Elmore County’s newest incident-management resource. SWIFTREACH™ touts SWIFT911™ as a “powerful solution for emergency notification” allowing the user to contact thousands of individuals simultaneously, by sending voice, text/SMS and email messages, in a matter of minutes.  SWIFTREACH™, “SWIFT911™ is an Emergency Notification Service that allows officials to rapidly and directly deliver specific actionable information to their community. County stakeholders receive a variety of information through SWIFT911™ such as emergency notifications, “heads-up” alerts, information regarding forthcoming emails, scheduled conference calls, planning meetings, etc., regarding critical/potentially critical situations only. SWIFT911™ will not be used however, to make emergency notifications to Elmore County stakeholders or the public on severe weather watches & warnings. Heavy publicity already exists through a multitude of robust, redundant resources & applications. Residents may receive a variety of information such as hazardous materials releases, evacuation orders, and Shelter-In-Place orders, boil water notices, dam failures, etc.

 

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) “Feeds”

“EMA Alerts” is a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) “feed” that Elmore County EMA has set up through this website to provide registered users with alerts and/or notifications. Click on the “RSS Feed Icon” to subscribe to this free service. The RSS “feed” notifies the user that an alert and/or notification has been posted to the EMA website and directs the user to the website for the details. The alerts are sent through the user’s browser.

 

News Media (Getting Public Information Out – During Local Emergencies and Disasters) – Elmore County EMA works with multiple media partners regarding the dissemination of public information both routine and crisis/disaster information. Fostering strong partnerships helps ensure the public is provided information needed during times of local emergencies and disasters in the most effective manner possible. Public information becomes exceptionally critical during local emergencies and disasters. That is why Elmore County EMA is continuously building strong media relations based on comprehensive preparation & planning. Distinguishing between three levels of activity: day-to-day, local emergency, and disaster; Responding accordingly to each. Planning effectively for media reaction during routine and emergency situations. Preparing elected officials & emergency management speakers for news conferences and media interactions. Monitoring current conditions, providing “ground truth” to the NWS and local media regarding credible reported happenings during severe weather events.

Emergency Alert System (EAS) – The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas. The FCC, in conjunction with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service (NWS), implements the EAS at the federal level.

Commercial Alert & Notification Systems – In addition to the above, the public may also choose from myriad free and at-cost commercial alert & notification applications for their personal devices in order to build further redundancy into their alert & notification systems. Elmore County EMA cannot and does not endorse the purchase and/or use any commercial service available to the public, at-cost or free of charge, but highly encourages the public to ensure they have multiple methods of receiving emergency alert and notification information.

 

Key Word Regarding Alert & Notification Systems:  Redundancy!

No alert and notification system that includes components such as:  the outdoor warning siren system, NOAA Weather Radios All Hazards (NWR), media, dialing/automated notification systems, etc., is 100% fail safe or 100% effective 100% of the time. No one system should ever be exclusively relied upon to receive emergency alerts and notifications. Having multiple means of receiving critical emergency information–known as building redundancy into your alert and notification system–helps ensure the alerts and notifications are received, despite factors like power outages, location (indoor vs. outdoor) dead batteries, time of day, and adverse weather conditions. It is up to the individual to be aware of his/her surroundings, and to be prepared to take proper and appropriate protective measures.