Sonora, CA — At the Tuolumne Board of Supervisors meeting the Tuolumne County Office of Emergency Services shared details about the new Citizen Alert System. Current Emergency declarations were also renewed and approved.
The board unanimously voted to continue the drought emergency and declare a state of urgency due to the possibility of wildfires. The board’s staff was directed to add statistics to the wildfire declaration before it is sent to California’s congressional delegation and forest management agencies.
The Office of Emergency Services (OES) Coordinator, Tracie Riggs, introduced and explained the County’s new Citizen Alert System to the Board. The new system uses technology provided by Everbridge. The Everbridge system was used on August 3rd to notify Twain Harte residents down stream from the Twain Harte Dam of a flash flood warning.
County Administrative Officer Craig Pedro noted with the Twain Harte incident they got feedback that the audio was horrible. He says, “We learned: record it, don’t use the automatic system to speak it, because it didn’t do a very good job.”
Riggs says the only phone numbers in the new Everbridge system already are landlines. In order to receive County alerts by cell phone people need to provide their information by signing up. The system can use FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) for specific life threatening information. IPAWS has permission from wireless companies to alert cell phones with signals in a designated area about specific life threatening situations. More information about IPAWS is at fema.gov.
For important Tuolumne County alerts a person has to provide their non land line number and address or they will not receive a notification. The new system allows those who live outside the area, but have family or own property in Tuolumne County, to sign up as well. Individuals may enter many locations, like their parent’s house, vacation home, children’s school, and workplace to get Tuolumne County alerts for that location.
The board discussed how to continue notifying the public of where to sign up for the alerts. A link to sign up for the alert system is on the Tuolumne County’s OES page here and the link directly to sign up is https://member.everbridge.net/index/1332612387832200
The board discussed creating a general policy for what type of alerts the system may be used for. Sheriff Jim Mele mentioned that law enforcement has a policy and advised against over using the system saying, “If you use this system too often people will push it aside.” Mele also says, “We have to remember this is electronic and it is only a tool, it does have limitations.”
Riggs noted that the Everbridge notification system allows people to select one or more different types of alerts. The current alert types are: Informative Law Enforcement Alerts, Informative Fire Department Alerts, Power Outages, Traffic Information-Closures and Weather Related Alerts.
Riggs warned that one difficulty with signing up is a problem with only providing the street address (not including city or state) in the designated box. If done properly a map with a box that must be selected will verifying the address, post office boxes are not valid as locations. Internet access is available at County Libraries for signing up and various community agencies have been provided with instructions to assist people in signing up.