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Staying connected in the event of an emergency

'LIVE' from City Hall

Posted: May 19, 2008 7:36 p.m.
Updated: July 19, 2008 5:01 a.m.
 
With Southern California being home to not only movie stars, but earthquakes and wild fires as well, it is imperative that residents throughout have the means to stay informed in the event of a local emergency.

The city of Santa Clarita is constantly preparing for any possible disasters and has recently launched a new addition to the city's Emergency Notification System that will allow residents to update their own contact information through the city's Web site so that if the need arises, the city can stay in touch.

The Emergency Notification System was most recently used during the October 2007 Buckweed Fire to contact more the 1,500 local residents whose homes for a time were threatened by the wildfire that raged out of control.

During emergencies such as the Buckweed Fire, even with numerous public safety personnel from other cities and states deployed to our community, in most instances there is never enough time to provide door-to-door evacuation notices when dealing with dynamically changing conditions as we experienced last fall.

Thousands in minutes
The Emergency Notification System represents a powerful tool, as it allows public safety officials in the Emergency Operations Center to reach hundreds or thousands of households in just minutes and allows our firefighters and deputies to do what they do best - help people.

The city's updated Emergency Notification System now allows residents and businesses the option to be contacted via another form of communication, including mobile phone numbers or e-mail addresses. With many homes and businesses trading in their typical telephone land lines for cellular communication or Internet calling services, and with e-mail becoming an increasingly popular and reliable mode of communication, the city of Santa Clarita is taking actions to keep up with the growing expectation of providing real-time information for residents.

This system previously allowed the city to stay connected via land line telephone notifications with residents and businesses within Santa Clarita when either impacted, or in immediate danger of being impacted, by an emergency or disaster.

This new on-line tool supplements the existing 911 telephone database updated by AT&T every three months, and provides the city with the ability to relay important information, such as an evacuation notice, to residents regardless of where they happen to be at when an emergency occurs.

The updated Emergency Notification System is user-friendly and can be accessed by simply going onto the city's website, www.santa-clarita.com, and completing the registration form.

In addition, the ENS also provides residents and businesses the ability to simply update their personal contact information if they were to move or get a new home or cellular phone number.

The city's Emergency Notification System was developed as an additional tool to aid local emergency service personal in quickly and effectively reaching out to the community and provide important information during times of emergencies.

When activated the ENS can simultaneously place calls to thousands of homes to provide residents with real-time emergency information. Should the call be picked up by an answering machine, the system can be configured to either leave a voice message or to attempt to dial an additional number until a real person is reached.

If the telephone called is busy or does not answer, the system will redial that number up to three times in an attempt to deliver the message. The Emergency Notification System is also TTY/TDD capable.

Only for emergencies
Finally, it is important for the community to be aware that this system and the contact information provided will never be used for any type of marketing efforts on the part of the city and/or private companies. The telephone numbers maintained by the city will only be called during times of localized emergencies.

If you would like more information on the updated Emergency Notification System, or on how to update or change the contact information that is currently in the system, please visit the city's Web site at www.santa-clarita.com, or you may contact us directly at 661-259-CITY.

Frank Ferry is a Santa Clarita City Council member. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Live from City Hall" is a column provided to The Signal by the city of Santa Clarita.

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