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SATV News Stories

Digital alerts to warn of public dangers

Post Date:03/27/2019

The San Angelo Fire Department has successfully transitioned from warning sirens to digital alerts, which can relate detailed information about a host of threats to every phone within Tom Green County.

The warnings will include specifics of the threat and instructions on how to protect oneself, whether from severe weather, an active shooter, a wildfire or any other imminent danger. The warnings can also alert the public of instances that affect large numbers of citizens, such as a major water main break.

The emergency alerts are similar to Amber alerts received on cell phones. When activated by the SAFD, alerts will be sent to every cell phone and landline within the area designated – whether a neighborhood or the entire county. Calls to land lines will continue until answered, offering detailed information about the threat and instructions. No registration is needed to receive the warnings.

The alerts will also be broadcast on radio stations, television channels and weather radios. The City of San Angelo and the San Angelo Police Department will also post them on their websites and social media.

“These emergency alerts will keep the public safer by providing greater reach, targeted messaging and more detailed information than the outdoor sirens ever could,” Fire Chief Brian Dunn said. “I am convinced of that. If not, I never would have sought to replace the sirens with modern technology.”

Beginning at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28, Dunn and Tracy Piatt-Fox, the SAPD public information officer, will answer questions about the new system on the City of San Angelo-Public Information Facebook page. That program will be posted on the Facebook page and on the City’s YouTube channel, and will be rebroadcast on SATV, Suddenlink channel 17

The criteria for sending alerts for severe weather remains the same: sustained winds (versus gusts) of at least 58 mph, hail at least 1 inch in diameter (the size of a quarter), and/or a tornado warning. Information about severe weather comes from the National Weather Service or a trained weather spotter in the field. The criteria were established by agreement of the Tom Green County judge and San Angelo’s mayor and city manager, per NOAA recommendations.

The decision to issue an alert remains with the SAFD’s on-duty battalion chief, the police or fire chief, the assistant fire chief for operations, the emergency management coordinator, or the city manager.

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