Telephone Alerts Don't Work in Emergencies

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By Ernie Salomon
 
I am not a disaster expert, but I do know that the telephone-based systems employed by cities in Sonoma and Napa counties underscored my often quoted belief that the first thing to go in wars, emergencies, and disasters is communication.  In the northern fires, it failed again! 
 
Think Sept. 11th, Katrina down to all the following disasters we have had in our country.  I am convinced that people died in the ongoing fires up north because they didn't get the word to evacuate.  Others had to run a fire gauntlet in their cars.  Cell phone towers and land lines were destroyed by the fire. Until satellite telephones are the norm, cell towers will continue to be burned to the ground just when they are needed and land-based phone lines will always be at risk.
 
We know several people in the Santa Rosa area and at least one family lost their home, others had to evacuate and at least one is still on the edge.  The biggest complaints that they have expressed are the lack of warning and the ensuing traffic jams that panicked many.  It took over three hours to make a trip that was normally 20-30 minutes!!!
 
I propose that we take a hard look for the use of sirens in our populated areas to signal evacuation for fires.  They can be made fail-safe by backup batteries and can be placed in strategic areas.
 
As I said on my recent program with Yolanda McGlinchey, SB City Emergency Services Manager, (who is knowledgeable) I am still convinced that a majority of our residents don't have a clue about what to do in case of a fire or earthquake as to preparedness especially as to evacuation routes in the event of fire.  NADA!
 
Unless those of you in authority can convince me otherwise, we have a long way to go!
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Meekodev Oct 14, 2017 02:01 PM
Telephone Alerts Don't Work in Emergencies

Between Nixle and reverse 911 I’ve never missed an evacuation notification. Hell they also let you know with a text update when the recommended evacuation area widens. If people aren’t ready and waiting until the police come door to door and with their megaphones that’s not the fault of the phone alert system but the fault of those who think “it can’t happen to me” and refuse to evacuate.

Z Oct 14, 2017 07:32 AM
Telephone Alerts Don't Work in Emergencies

OMG! You've got the wrong car if it won't work after an EMP attack, just start walking toward Mexico. If you're sleeping through earthquakes you need better drugs. I've gotten fire and weather warnings on the reverse 911, better than having the town crier out knocking on doors. Maybe we should make every household keep a fire watcher awake in the night.

therealbebe Oct 14, 2017 08:19 AM
Telephone Alerts Don't Work in Emergencies

And who said anything about sleeping through an earthquake? Who even does that? And what does it have to do with Mexico? Explain.

therealbebe Oct 14, 2017 08:16 AM
Telephone Alerts Don't Work in Emergencies

Most cars made after 2011 rely on onboard computers. What are you driving, daddy's old cadillac? Congratulations on receiving reverse 911 calls. The point is how to alert people to imminent danger without relying ONLY on telephones. Way to belittle forward thinking. Because YOUR phone worked just fine. Happy for you. Stay cushy with your crayons and your head in the sand.

Z Oct 13, 2017 03:12 PM
Telephone Alerts Don't Work in Emergencies

No, don't agree. The problems with the phone systems up north were the late decisions to order evacuations. That and people not hearing their cell phones "ring" or chime with text messages in the midst of roaring wind.

therealbebe Oct 13, 2017 03:48 PM
Telephone Alerts Don't Work in Emergencies

Nonsense. Those fires tore through at 60 mph and within minutes. It had nothing to do with "late" decision making. There was simply not enough time. And who else here turns their ringers completely off at night? I know I do. Roaring wind or no. And I don't have a landline. Most people I know do not anymore. I would be sleeping peacefully in my bed while a fire or tsunami or flash flood comes my way. I totally agree with Ernie. How about in the case of an EMP attack? None of those phones, computers, or even cars will be working. Or if an earthquake knocks everything offline in seconds. There MUST be a better way.

mtndriver Oct 13, 2017 03:11 PM
Telephone Alerts Don't Work in Emergencies

I've received alerts from the Sheriff's department about evacuations in the past, during fires, both on a land line and on a cell phone.

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