A public warning and information system has been activated in Essex County.
NY-ALERT, a system that provides public safety alerts and warnings over multiple platforms, was used for the first time in late July when a telecommunications disruption caused sporadic problems in the Essex County 911 system.
“We used it a couple of weeks back when we had the situation with the 911 calls,” Essex County Office of Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said. “That was the first time that we were able to use the NY-ALERT system because it’s not a system that you can do a lot of testing with calling people’s houses.”
For that case, Jaquish said, the alert system used the land-line phone numbers in the 911 database to send out calls to Essex County residents alerting them to the potential problem.
Jaquish said that the department did due diligence in deciding what provider to use when it came to an emergency system that would allow the county to contact residents on multiple platforms, including phone, cell phone, internet, and cell phone applications.
“We looked real careful at this before we decided to go with NY-ALERT,” Jaquish said. “We wanted to make sure that we were getting the same services from them that we would through a paid service.”
NY-ALERT’s public notification system will alert residents either countywide or in specific areas with alerts pertaining to general public safety (Amber Alerts, health alerts, boil water orders, Emergency Alert System advisories and radiological events), transportation (road closures, delays and accidents) and meteorological (severe weather warnings).
“We can do a countywide alert, or be specific,” Jaquish said. “Let’s say that there was a prison break or something like that. We could say that someone has been missing for 10 minutes, go to a map and chart the area, then call everyone in that specific area to alert them to the situation.”
Along with calls to land-line phones, people can also be notified of NY-ALERTs through a mobile application, e-mail, RSS feeds on the www.nyalert.gov website, text messages or pager messaging, instant messaging systems and press releases to targeted media.
For more information or to subscribe to the NY-ALERT system in Essex County, visit the website www.nyalert.gov.