Updates made to county emergency alert and notification plan

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    By Clayton Chaney
    Staff Writer

    Archuleta County utilizes multiple outlets to send out emergency alerts and notifications for its residents and visitors.

    At a regular meeting held by the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) on May 18, the board approved some changes to its plan.

    In a later interview, Emergency Operations Director Mike Le Roux explained more about the notification systems the county uses and the changes that were made to the plan.

    Le Roux mentioned that the plan was initially adopted in 2017 and did not include a role for Archuleta County Combined Dispatch.

    An update to the plan has been made to incorporate the role of Archuleta County Combined Dispatch.

    According to the documentation attached in the meeting’s agenda, the role of the Archuleta County Combined Dispatch Center is to:

    “1. Disseminate warning and emergency public information to affected areas as needed in coordination with the Office of Emergency Management.

    “2. Address citizen warnings received through the emergency 911 system.”

    The document also notes that the county, in collaboration Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been granted access to the Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS).

    Le Roux explained that with access to IPAWS, the county will be able to send out emergency notifications to all cell phones located in the county, even if the user has not signed up for Nixle alerts.

    He mentioned that this is similar to how Amber Alerts are sent out.

    The agenda documentation notes that “IPAWS should only be used in life safety incidents.”

    Another update in the plan is that alert systems will now be tested monthly, instead of annually. 

    The agenda documentation notes that the Nixle alert system is a reverse 911 system that “has the ability to send text, email, and voice notifications to citizens who have registered.”

    The Nixle system has three levels of emergency notifications ranging from lowest to highest concerns.

    The three levels are Community, Advisory and Alert.

    Community-level notifications are sent out only through email and Advisory-level notifications are sent out via email and text message.

    An example of a Community-level notification would be safety tips or community meetings and an example of an Advisory notification would be a significant road closure. 

    Alert-level notifications are sent out through email, text message and phone call. An example of a Alert-level notification would be an evacuation notice or a missing person notification. 

    To sign up for the Nixle alert system, visit: www.archuletacounty.org/569/Citizens-Alert.