City’s Emergency Alert System Tested Monthly

Residents tuned into a television or radio on Wednesday may have picked up on some portion of the nationwide Emergency Alert System test, which is run by the Federal Emergency Management System through the county.
Although the scheduled event was simply a test of the function of the broadcast system itself, San Marino Fire Chief Mario Rueda said he’d like to remind residents that the city maintains an emergency response plan that it runs drills for monthly. The city joined in the EAS process run by FEMA in 2017, Rueda said.
“We have that capability today,” he said. “Fortunately we haven’t had to use it. Each month we test it internally, but we never send it out publicly, though we may consider doing that in the future.”
The EAS, which Rueda described as “like an Amber Alert,” is typically the first interaction with the public by government authorities during an emergency event; in its documents, San Marino officials indicate that the city’s use of it would “likely be rare” and listed earthquakes, serious fire and heavy rains and flooding as the likeliest causes.
This alert comes in the form of pre-recorded messages spoken plainly, usually in English, that interrupt a current program on radio or TV; on televisions, there also is a scroll bar that shows the message written out. The city manager, fire chief and police chief can authorize use of the EAS.
The next step taken is a Wireless Emergency Alert, in which a cleanly written message explaining the emergency is sent to all wireless mobile devices in the area, usually in the form of a text message. The fire and police chief can authorize this step.
Use of the San Marino Community Alert system would target the mobile devices of people who voluntarily register with the system on the city’s website. The system, which uses the vendor Blackboard Connect, is typically used for warnings to shelter in place or evacuate, or for follow-up messaging after an event has passed.
The city also makes uses of programs such as Nixle, CLEAR (Communicating Law Enforcement Alerts to Residents) and social media to reach residents and other community members remotely on a complementary basis. Locally, the city also can use electronic message boards and a public address system as needed.
The EAS, WEA and Community Alert systems are used to send correct information in the event a message is mistakenly sent out or a message contains incorrect information.
These procedures were most recently reviewed and approved in December.

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