A new wireless alert system announced by the Provincial government this week does not apply to local governments at this time and the RDEK wants to get the word out so people are aware of the system’s current limitations.

“Emergency Management BC will be utilizing the national Alert Ready program to send messages to wireless phones; however, it’s important for people to understand that these alerts currently only apply to tsunami warnings and are not available for any other local emergency at this time,” explains RDEK Communications Manager, Loree Duczek.  “We have long been advocating for a system that will push emergency messages out to mobile devices and are excited about this step, but want to make sure the public is clear about the system’s current limitations.”

Part of the RDEK’s concern is that all wireless carriers in BC are sending test text messages to wireless customers advising of the new system and stating that customers will receive emergency alerts from the government for possible life-threatening situations. “While local governments hope to one day be able to access the system, EMBC has indicated it will be a year or more before the technology is in place to allow this to happen, so we want to stress to residents that they will not be receiving text messages about local emergencies other than tsunami warnings,” adds Duczek.

The RDEK is in the process of implementing a mass notification system that would send messages regarding evacuation alerts or orders; however, users will have to sign up for that system once it is in place. We will continue to keep residents informed about the new system as it comes on line.

“We strongly support having an alert system like the one being introduced by the Province this week where critical emergency-related messages can be pushed to any smartphone or device within a defined geographic area,” says Duczek.  “We are eager to see the system expanded to include all life-threatening emergencies in BC and be accessible by local governments next year.”