By Craig Marx, Editor
With the recent prevalence of dangerous storms in Northern Wisconsin, we decided to talk with Brad Henricks, Director of Emergency Management for Langlade County, about the Everbridge Emergency System and how citizens can utilize this service in the event of inclement weather and other occurances.
Q) How did Langlade County hear about the Everbridge system and decide on it as the primary emergency service system?
A) For several years, the City of Antigo and Langlade used the Nixle Notification system, that was an opt-in only, limited, service. Nixle’s parent company, Everbridge has an robust mass notification system that the City and the County went together to subscribe to. Everbridge allowed us to import all remaining land line phone numbers and all other opt-in contacts that can be contacted by many means… texts, email, phone calls. Everbridge also allowed for community notifications, like recreation trail conditions, community events like music in the park, notifications from police, fire and EMS.
Q) What types of alerts are available with the system (i.e. thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding, criminal and public safety matters, etc.)?
A) The important thing to remember about Everbridge Notification types is that for Tornado Warnings, citizens have to do absolutely NOTHING! If a tornado warning is issued for an area of Langlade County, the system will call all the land lines within the tornado warning area as defined by the National Weather Service’s map shape. All cellphones within that map shape will be notified by the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system that sends the notifications from cell sites within the map. Television and radio stations will interrupt their broadcasts to give the warning. Also, weather radios will broadcast the warning. Weather radios are available for qualified City of Antigo residents at City Hall or can be purchased at several local retail outlets.
Beyond tornado warnings, citizens can sign-up for many different types of notifications, from community calendar events like Music in the Park, to all the different weather categories like severe thunderstorm warnings to winter weather advisories, ski and trail conditions, law enforcement advisories and many more. Signing up for those types of notifications are done through the web site, alcinfo.com, and clicking on the Everbridge logo.
Q) What are the geographical ranges/limits of the system in terms of Langlade County itself? Does the system work in tandem with other adjacent counties to help predict and notify emergency situations in advanced?
A) The system is configured for all of Langlade County to trigger any automatic notifications. Events outside of Langlade County that would be significant enough that residents should be made aware can be manually sent by system administrators and the Langlade County Communications Center.
Q) For those who may not be tech savvy, how does the average citizen go about registering for the Everbridge service? Is there assistance available for learning how to utilize the service?
A) To register for the many different types of notifications that are available, go to alcinfo.com and click on the Everbridge logo. The user will create a user name and password, and then can pick what and how they would like the notifications. The citizen can choose to get their notifications via phone or text or email. The citizen can go back into the Everbridge system at any time and change anything they have chosen or the method that they want those notifications. YOU PICK WHAT, YOU PICK HOW. Contact and assistance info is available off the attached pamphlet.
Q) How do you feel the service has worked thus far, and in relation to the question above, is there anything you feel citizens can expect when it comes to its use?
A) We feel that the citizens of the County have been getting a broad ranges of different types of notifications that were never given before. It may amaze the average person all that is going on in their community and what they can be involved in. The Everbridge system gives enough information so the receiver get a complete picture on what the notification is about. The number of contacts continue to rise.