Disaster Services Coordinator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 11, 2023
Blaine County announces launch of new emergency notification capability
Messages can be sent to cell phones without a need for prior opt-in or registration
HAILEY, Idaho – Today, Blaine County announced it has launched a new emergency alert capability that will permit police, fire, and other emergency officials to send Integrated Public Alert Warnings (IPAWS), including Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), to the public without requiring users to opt-in or subscribe to the service.
IPAWS is FEMA's national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency and lifesaving information to the public through mobile phones using Wireless Emergency Alerts to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System, and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Radio.
When activated, all enabled cell phones within a specified geographical area will light up with sounds and text, similar to Amber Alerts and National Weather Service notices. The new capabilities will work in conjunction with Blaine County’s existing emergency alert system, CodeRED™.
"By integrating these additional capabilities within our CodeRED™ system, we’re able to become even more efficient at notifying residents of emergency events or imminent threats. This saves time and redirects valuable resources elsewhere to better protect our community in times of crisis better,” said Chris Corwin, Disaster Services Coordinator.
Until now, Blaine County’s warning capability has been limited to landlines and to cell phones registered with the county’s CodeRED™ system. The use of IPAWS and Wireless Emergency Alerts will allow the emergency management officials to reach tourists, visitors, those who are unhoused, and residents who may travel outside of their opt-in coverage area.
These alerts will significantly enhance the County’s ability to alert the public to emergency situations and, when possible, include information and direction from emergency responders on what steps to take.
However, Blaine County asks that residents still continue to register for the CodeRED™ system and keep their contact information up to date. You can register for CodeRED™ alerts at: https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/58D579DB8746
What you need to know about IPAWS WEAs:
● WEAs can be sent by local and state public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the President of the United States
● WEAs can be issued for three alert categories – local imminent threat, AMBER alerts, and presidential alerts
● WEAs look like text messages but are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound and vibration, both repeated twice
● WEAs are no more than 90 characters and will include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, as well as the agency issuing the alert
● Mobile users are not charged for receiving WEAs and there is no need to subscribe or to “opt-in”
● When public safety authorities launch a WEA, the alert will be automatically sent to all smartphones in the designated alert area
Emergency Alert System (EAS)
● The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is also provided by IPAWS.
● EAS may be used by state and local authorities, in cooperation with the broadcast community, to deliver important emergency information, such as weather information, imminent threats, AMBER alerts, and local incident information targeted to specific areas via radio and television broadcast
● EAS is also used when all other means of alerting the public are unavailable, providing an added layer of resiliency to the suite of available emergency communication
● The President has sole responsibility for determining when the national-level EAS will be activated
● FEMA is responsible for national-level EAS tests and exercises.
For additional information please visit: https://www.fema.gov/emergency-managers/practitioners/integrated-public-alert-warning-system