Last week, the National Weather Service confirmed that an EF0 level tornado had touched down in Warren County, Ohio, on March 23. The tornado moved briefly into Clinton County near Clarksville, Ohio, before dissipating. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and property damage only extended to two vehicles and a barn, all of which appeared to be unoccupied at the time of the tornado. Courtney Francisco, reporting for WCPO, documented the damage on her Twitter page. EF0 tornadoes are lowest level of tornado in terms of danger and potential destruction, and the fact that damage was minimal is undoubtedly good news.
Yet, WCPO also reported some not-so-great news: many nearby residents of Warren and Clinton Counties didn't hear any warning sirens go off. "A tornado warning was issued for Warren County and Clinton County, where Clarksville is located, Wednesday afternoon around 3:45 p.m.," Felicia Jordan reports. "Despite the warning, residents in Clinton County said they never heard the outdoor warning system sirens." She goes on to report that "Clinton County Emergency Management Director Thomas Breckel said Thursday the 27 outdoor sirens throughout the county failed due to an equipment malfunction. Breckel said the manufacturer is working to confirm and fix the problem."
Public and Private Emergency Technology
Quick disclosure: this blog isn't equipped to audit the condition of Ohio's emergency infrastructure. As such, it's unclear if the events in WCPO's report are representative of the condition of sirens and other warning systems throughout the state. We encourage readers to research the status of their local communities' emergency warning systems on their own.
Still, it's good for people to know what alternatives to conventional warning systems are available. Historically, public warnings, whether for natural disasters or crime, existed in the form of emergency broadcasts on radio and television, as well as physical warning systems like the emergency sirens mentioned above. But what if you don't have quick access to these older forms of communication when disaster strikes?
The internet has enabled many new avenues for people to stay informed, often for free. For example, in WCPO's reporting, they mention Clinton County's smartphone emergency notification system, which sends emergency broadcasts to privately owned smart-devices. They even provide a link for their readers to sign up. In addition to disaster and crime warning systems, there are a variety of products available for people who might need quick emergency access for medical reasons. Many of the products integrate easily into local 911 dispatch tech.
In Cincinnati, there's a free app available called Citizen. Citizen allows for easy sharing of emergency information with law enforcement, EMS providers, and normal residents in real time. The Citizen app can send out warnings relating to everything from robberies, shootings and kidnappings in progress to warnings about dangerous weather conditions. It also provides regular updates on changes in rates of COVID-19 infection in Ohio counties. At the time of publishing this post, there were roughly 10,000 users on the app in the Cincinnati area.
What's more, in 2012 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system throughout the nation. This allows the FCC to send out emergency texts to anyone in the country who are customers with wireless carriers who volunteer for the program. These alerts are free of charge and don't require any action on the part of the user.
In short, people today have a variety of options to stay informed about emergency situations in their area. Similar communication technology, like text alerts and apps that notify workers of urgent situations in the workplace, have been adapted for businesses. Are you ready to get started building out your communication infrastructure? Titan Tech can guide you through the process of setting up and deploying the right platform for your business. Give them a call today for more information.
And join us again on Thursday for more tech news.