During any emergency, it is always a challenge to reach all residents and visitors in the affected areas to give them timely and accurate information and instructions. During the recent Pagami Creek Fire evacuation, Lake County relied upon the Emergency Alert System (EAS) of weather radios and media outlets, as well as the Lake Superior School District’s Instant Alert message phone message system, Nixle text messages (see www.Nixle.com
), and door to door notification by law enforcement and rescue squad members. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) was designed in 1997 to send alerts to radio, TV and NOAA weather radios. These radios are small, inexpensive, and still the best way to receive information on weather emergencies, along with other local and presidential emergency notifications. In 2006 , the President signed the “Public Alert and Warning System Executive Order.
” It expands upon the 1997 system to include internet, cell phone, and satellite communication, and can be accessed by local emergency managers and public safety officials to send immediate alerts. The goal of the program is to have “an effective, reliable, integrated, flexible, and comprehensive system to alert and warn the American People.” Now, it’s ready for its first nationwide test. On Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 1:00 PM, the Emergency Alert System will interrupt all broadcast, cable and satellite TV and radio for approximately three minutes with a test message. You can also listen in on your own weather radio. The test will be conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Lake County will participate in the test by activating our local amateur radio operators at the Lake County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for radio and digital communications checks with similar teams in St. Louis County, Douglas County, and Wisconsin and Minnesota State EOCs. These volunteers are members of Lake County RACES (radio amateur civil emergency service) and ARES (amateur radio emergency service) team. For more information on their service during the Pagami Fire and other events, or to learn more about joining, visit www.n0lcr.org
As noted during the decision not to replace the aging sirens in Two Harbors, this Emergency Alert System will become a major link in our public alert and warning system. We hope not to need it again for a while, but it’s best to be prepared.