Photo by Laura Gjovaag
Scott Miller, the director of the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management, introduces himself to the Sunnyside City Council at Monday night’s meeting. Miller said one of the major projects for his office is to put in place an emergency notification system to keep the public informed in case of disasters.
As of Tuesday, May 12, 2015
An emergency notification system is one of the big projects in the works at the Yakima Valley Office of Emergency Management, according to its new director, Scott Miller.
In a presentation to the Sunnyside City Council Monday night, Miller talked about what his office provides to the city and what it will be doing over the course of 2015.
The big project alluded to by Miller is something that Sunnyside City Manager Don Day said he was surprised was not already in place when he came to Sunnyside.
“When I learned there was no emergency notification system in place, I had that high on my priorities to get set up,” he said. “Then I found out the county was working on it.”
He joined with Miller to help design the program for the county. Sunnyside Fire Chief Aaron Markham also joined the committee to work on the system.
An emergency notification system uses modern technology, including email, text messages, phones, fax, pagers and instant messages, to warn the public in case of emergencies or planned outages.
As an example, if an area is threatened by flooding, the system can target all people in the area who have asked to receive notifications and warn them of the danger.
Another example would be if the city planned to shut off water in some parts of the city during the day. The system would alert people in those areas of the planned shutoff in advance so people can make other plans.
The system, once in place, would require citizens to opt-in, entering their contact information and what sort of notifications they want to receive. Messages from the city would then be targeted based on where the people live.
Miller said the county will be paying for the implementation of the system, which will cost about $40,000. The system is planned to be online by August.
Markham also noted that only the first year costs will be covered by the county, and the city may need to budget to pay for the system in future years. He said the costs to the city would depend on how many cities in the county are part of the system and what vendor the committee chooses.
In addition to the notification system, other plans involving Sunnyside are being put into place for emergency management.
Miller said Sunnyside will host an emergency coordination center that would be available to help in a major disaster in the area.
“If the emergency is big enough, Sunnyside will open its facility,” Miller said. “The center will provide operational coordination in a major event.”
The center is planned to open sometime in the third quarter of this year, with a tabletop exercise to see how well it works planned for the fourth quarter.
Miller said he was part of the response to the Carlton Complex fire, and he is bringing the lessons learned to help cities in the Lower Valley handle possible threats.