Sonoma County tests emergency notifications systems in real world

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Sonoma County made good on a post-firestorm promise to improve emergency notifications by conducting another test of emergency alerts Wednesday morning.

Sonoma County made good on a post-firestorm promise to improve emergency notifications by conducting another test of emergency alerts Wednesday morning.

RELATED: How to sign up for emergency alerts where you live

Mobile phones -- these days, we can't live with them or without them. Sonoma County is banking that they may save your life, hence the emergency alert testing.

"You know at work, there were a bunch of phones going off. They were alerts but I don't know what it was," Linda Davison said. But she got the message, albeit indirectly, as Santa Rosa and Sonoma County ran a second emergency notifications test from their office.

When the firestorm hit last fall, the county heard considerable criticism from residents who never knew about the danger until it was too late. That will never happen again, according to Supervisor James Gore.

RELATED: Sonoma County tests emergency phone calls in wake of North Bay Fires

"If you focus on crisis communication, the first rule is to communicate. You cannot over alert people if you do it the right way," Gore said.

Wednesday's tests were broadcasted alerts and wireless messages via mobile phones in both Spanish and English. Then it asked for those who received them to respond and take a survey.

"I did get it and I took the survey," one person said.

"Did it work for you?"

"Yes. Yes"



Though some bugs remain, Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner is still worried about a county-wide test two days ago. "It took four hours to dial everyone in Sonoma County. That's too long. If we have a targeted incident, we can't dial every person."

So this remains a work in progress, but it's also the first test of this kind, ever, in the western United States.

Sonoma County -- burn once, shame on you. Twice, shame on me. Around here, it fits.

"Learn from our mistake. Don't wait for this to smack you in the face. Learn from what we are going through," Gossner said.

RELATED: Sonoma County calls for changes after North Bay fire report

For more stories, photos, and video on the North Bay fires, visit this page.

Related Topics:
emergency drillwildfiresonoma countycellphonesmartphonesdisasterNorth Bay FiresGuernevilleGlen EllenKenwoodHealdsburgPenngroveRoseland
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