Be prepared to hear a groaning and screaming alarm erupt from cell phones around you on June 21 at 10:30 a.m., when the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary will be testing its Emergency Alert system. Much like the Canada-wide alert that went out on May 8, this localized alarm system is meant to be deployed during threats of natural disasters, such a fires or flooding.
But beyond simply letting alert recipients know that there may be a threat to their safety, the RDKB’s system has the capability to indicate how far away an incident is and to outline ideal evacuation routes. Further, people who download the Voyent Alert! app on their phones can monitor alerts for other locations and other family members and loved ones in order to track their safety as well.
“Communication during emergencies is critical,” said RDKB Board Chair Roly Russell in a press release. “In this case we’ve put a platform in place but we need people to sign up in order for it to help you.”
As of last May, more than 900 RDKB residents had signed up for the alert system. There are, however, more than 31,000 residents in the district, indicating that many more residents remain unregistered.
The idea for the alert system came after the 2015 Rock Creek fires. The RDKB resolved to update their Emergency Communications Plan, which included the Emergency Alerting System. Now, the system has been set up, to be tested.
“With this test we look forward to the final stage of system setup and are encouraging all residents to register in advance of the test and the wildfire season,” said Mark Stephens, Interim Emergency Program Manager at the RDKB, in a press release.
“The more ways local government has to communicate with residents before and during emergencies, the better off we all are,” Russell added.
The alert service is free for recipients and registration is anonymous. The RDKB also said that it will continue to pass out paper notifications for evacuation orders, in addition to the cellular alerts.
Mobile app users can download and install the Voyent Alert! app from their phone’s app store. Email, SMS or voice dial users can register online to receive email, voice or text-based alerts at https://emergency.rdkb.com/.