NEWS HEADLINES

County activates new emergency system

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, June 1, 2013

{{{*}}}The Wise County Sheriff’s Office has a new emergency alert system in place.

The Everbridge system, which allows dispatch to send important information to citizens via phone, text or email, replaces the previous mass notification system, DeltAlert.

Residents must sign up online for the service. Visit wcmess.com/alert.

The system will enable the Sheriff’s Office or Wise County Office of Emergency Management to send notifications about threatening weather, large grass fires, power outages and road closures, among other things.

“The more people that are on it, the better it will work,” said Sheriff David Walker in regard to the distribution of information.

“We’ve been working on this for numerous months, and after the tornadoes in Moore, Okla., … they knew 15 minutes ahead of time. It sure made us think about areas in our county that aren’t in a city (with storm sirens).”

All Wise County residents, whether they live within the city limits of a town or not, may sign up for the service. Walker said the weather notifications will actually come from the National Weather Service but will be delivered through the county’s Everbridge account. They will include thunderstorm and tornado warnings.

“We decided to do the thunderstorm warnings because lately, the thunderstorms have turned tornadic,” Walker said.

When you sign up, you can pick which warnings you would like to receive such as excessive heat, extreme cold, flood, snow, storm or tornado. A resident could choose to receive all warnings or just one or two. Users can also customize what community alerts they receive with options including law enforcement, fire department, water outages, power outages, public meetings, public works and traffic information.

One section allows users to indicate if they have special needs, so that first responders would know if particular residents might need extra help in an emergency, and there is also a section where users can indicate if they have special volunteer skills that could be utilized in a community emergency.

A physical address is associated with each user, which allows dispatch to pinpoint specific neighborhoods as needed. For example, Walker said if a SWAT team was called to a home on Trinity Street in Decatur, the Sheriff’s Office could determine a perimeter and issue alerts to everyone within that perimeter.

“We can use it for anything,” he said. “Whatever is going on … missing kids, missing elderly, the options are endless.”

If you have questions about how to sign up, email Sheriff’s Office Communications Manager Susan Gomez at gomezs@sheriff.co.wise.tx.us. If you don’t have Internet access and need assistance signing up, call Gomez at 940-627-5971.

To sign up for the county’s new emergency alert notification system, visit wcmess.com/alert.

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