Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Emergency Alert Systems

On May 25th, a concerned reader to our local Columbian newspaper shared some concerns about the effectiveness of the alert systems used here in Clark County.  The full text of this letter can be found by clicking THIS WEBSITE LINK to the local newspaper.

Like all emergency situations, Clark County nor CRESA can speak to the circumstances of the hazardous materials response in Clackamas County on May 11th that prompted this newsletter; however, we want to assure you that emergency managers throughout the region take seriously our responsibility to notify the public during emergency conditions. 

Here in Clark County, we have two key alerting system:
  • The Emergency Alert System (EAS) which sounds the tones that you hear over local radio stations and NOAA Weather Alert radios which automatically turn on when they receive an emergency signal from this system. 
  • The Emergency Community Notification System (ECNS) is the telephone-based system which sends out geographic alerts to all landline phones during emergency conditions.  If you have a mobile phone or a Voice-over-Internet Phone (VoIP), you need to sign up your phone to receive emergency alerts.  This is because your mobile phone needs to be affiliated with an address in order to enter the alerting map.  You can sign up your phone at THIS WEBSITE LINK.  
The Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency (CRESA) has operational procedures for both systems and they are tested regularly.  We also work diligently with our neighboring counties on alerting procedures, especially because hazardous incidents pay no attention to county lines. 

Just recently, we have updated our ECNS system to share maps of all 4 counties of SW Washington (Clark, Cowlitz, Skamania, Wahkiakum) so that we can easily notify neighboring counties should a hazardous situation occur in one of our border areas. 

Thank you, Mr. Blakely, for sharing your concern for public safety and the emergency alert systems.  Should anyone have questions about how we prepare and respond to emergency situations, CRESA welcomes your questions, concerns and comments as we seek to ensure that our community is prepared and ready to respond to emergency conditions.

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