New alert system can inform residents of any specific emergencies

RICHLAND, WA - With all of this recent breaking news that was going on in New York and New Jersey, authorities sent out a wireless emergency alert to people in the area.

We wanted to see how something like those alerts would work right here in our region.

The alert system used in New York City to help apprehend Ahmad Khan Rahami is a new system that emergency management teams nationwide are gaining access to in order to notify residents and visitors quickly and more efficiently than ever before.

The wireless emergency alert system, or WEA, pings a signal off local cell towers to every cell phone in the area with the message submitted into the system by the area's emergency manager.

Reporter Rex Carlin talked with the manager of Benton County's emergency services, and she told him that this is an incredible new system.

"We will put in geographic parameters, give it a message, put out authentication code in there, and send that message," said manager Deanna Davis. "And it will turn on those phones that are in that geographic area with a brief message about what the emergency is, or a place they can turn to for additional information about that emergency."

An even more specific version of the system is an opt-in program, which is designed to send alerts down to neighborhoods, or even street-level for emergencies such as fire evacuations or flooding, where the whole county doesn't necessarily need to be notified.

Benton County first used this system to alert people living near the South Ward Gap fire outside Prosser earlier this summer.

To opt-in to receive these more specific alerts happening in your area, you can go to WWW.BCES.WA.GOV.

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