Natrona County to Test Emergency Alert Systems Friday


"Some people might think that we're here in Wyoming we don't really have a tornado issue.  I'm from the midwest so i'm a lot more used to tornados and I used to think the same thing.  But the very first year I moved here, we had a tornado."

-Joe Nickerson, Casper Police PIO

This week is Severe Weather Awareness week throughout Wyoming, and on Friday there will be a short test of Natrona County's emergency alert systems in the event of a weather emergency.

The National Weather Service offices in Wyoming will conduct a statewide tornado drill around 10:30am. And in conjunction with those tests, Natrona County will also be testing landline phones and outdoor sirens.

Lt. Anderson of Natrona County Emergency Management Agency says "it's a time to start thinking about the severe weather impacts that could occur throughout Wyoming. Whether it be flooding, flash flooding, severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings."

All landline phones are in the 9-1-1 database and will get an emergency test call Friday. If you don't own landline phone, there are a few other options.

"If someone has a cell phone in which they want to get calls, or text, or they want to sign up their email, they can sign up. It's a free service and they will get that call, text or email. Whatever they prefer."

Many smartphones nowadays come standard with an emergency alert function built into the phone's settings. It requires a cooperative effort between the government and the cell's service provider.

Lt. Anderson says, "it takes a lot longer to say then when it actually happens. I mean you're talking digitally, it goes out in nano seconds."

Here in Natrona County, emergency personnel rely on the 'Code Red' system, which sends a recorded message to landline phones

"Not everybody has a cell phone or internet capabilities. So we do the reverse, if you will, it used to be called the reverse 9-1-1 or the phone systems."

Joe Nickerson, Casper Police PIO says, "and some people might think that we're here in Wyoming we don't really have a tornado issue. I'm from the midwest so i'm a lot more used to tornados and I used to think the same thing. But the very first year I moved here, we had a tornado."

And it's never too soon to prepare for the unexpected.

Nickerson continues, "well going through the drills, doing everything just as if it's real, is going to make you prepared when the incident actually happens."

"We try to cover as many bases as we can," says Anderson. "So that people are forwarned and that they get the word so that they can take immediate action."

And if there is any sort of inclement weather on Friday during the test, then it will be postponed to avoid any confusion with those weather conditions.

Signing up to receive alert texts and emails is relatively simple.

Just visit http://www.natrona.net/ and click on Code Red to register your email or cell phone.
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Follow Tony Cedrone on twitter @tony_p_said


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