Emergency and Community Alerts: How do you get them? Are you signed up? Do you even know where to begin?
There are several platforms that are a great start when it comes to receiving information about your city.
“On a normal day, the many methods that we use, we post to our website which is cosatx.us, recently we’ve been driving people to our news page which is cosatx.us/news, because we’ve had a lot going on these last few weeks. Then we have our TV station which we post things to, we have our social media accounts, and we will also use the San Angelo Police Department’s Nixle account that they operate, and some of the alert systems the Fire Department do if something like this boil water notice, or the contamination rises to that level, and our last thing which is one of our biggest things is we partner with our media partners and we send all the information to them,” Briand Groves, Public Information Officer for the City of San Angelo said.
Those on the front lines also have several options to get information to you…. But you have to sign up.
“We utilize Nixle which is a mass communication tool to send critical alerts to our citizens, the program is opt-in and the service is free to consumers. The police department doesn’t retain any of the subscription information all of that information is run through Nixle so it is a secure website they do not use that information to market and the system is completely safe and secure,” Tracy Piatt-Fox, Public Information Officer for the San Angelo Police Department said.
“The fire department we use a platform called AlertSense and you can sign up through public.alertsense.com and you subscribe to that platform online it’s really easy, put in your email, cell phone, home phone for everyone that subscribes you’ll get an alert from the fire department,” Johnny Fisher, Assistant Chief for the San Angelo Fire Department said.
These alerts can also be customized, meaning you can pick which ones you want to get, if there are certain times you don’t want to receive them, and more. They can even go to landlines. So, how many have signed up for these alerts?
“San Angelo, say a town of 100,000 people, there are about 600 that have subscribed,” Fisher said.
“Right now we have just under 20,000 subscribers which is good but we really want to improve on that,” Piatt-Fox said.
All of these officials say that having multiple ways to get critical information is necessary.
“Obviously the television is a good place to get weather alerts, weather radios, some people use them, some people don’t but good thing about a weather radio, of you lose power you still have access because there’s a back up battery,” Fisher said.
Another important topic to bring up, these alerts don’t just go out for weather or water related issues.
“We have solved a lot of cases, we’ve located missing children, missing and endangered elderly, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve put alerts for critically injured or missing children and seniors and we’ve found them through tipsters who have seen that NIxle alert,” Piatt-Fox said.
But there’s still one question that remains: What if there is no power?
“Obviously the last few weeks have been a challenge because people don’t have power. And that’s something that we’re going to talk about is how do you reach someone who has lost power, their devices may have died, and how do you reach them? And right now I don’t have an answer but that’s something we’re looking into because in situations like this we want to make sure that we get critical information to people as accurately as we can and as quickly as we can,” Groves said.
MORE EMERGENCY ALERT INFORMATION:
Sign up for alerts from the Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office here.
Learn more about Texas DPS alerts such as: AMBER, Silver, Blue, Endangered Missing Persons, Camo & CLEAR Alert Programs.