Monday, December 18, 2017 Medina 35°
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County launches wireless emergency alerts

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MEDINA — Emergency alerts are now available through the new Wireless Emergency Notification System or WENS. It allows safety officials to instantly message the entire county or a specific area through phone calls, texts and emails.

Messages will provide details and instructions for action.

“It’s truly for emergency alerting,” said Christina Fozio, director of the Medina County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. “It’s been up and operational for a month.”

The service is free and provided by the Medina County Emergency Management Agency. For text alerts, subscribers may text the first five letters of their Medina County community to: 69310. For more extensive information — weather alerts, voice alerts, email alerts, text alerts and street specific alerts — residents are asked to register at www.medinacountyema.org.

“There will be full notifications, like weather, from the National Weather Service,” Fozio said.

She said about 300 people have signed up so far for the program.

Fozio said she negotiated a three-year contract at a substantial savings of about a third of the cost from the former system, Everbridge.

She said the WENS system will cost about $12,000 this year and $8,000 each of the next two years.

Communities that paid to be part of the Everbridge system don’t have to pay for the new system. Fozio said EMA absorbed the cost.

She said the system attempts to recognize new ways to communicate.

“In this day and age, there are so many different tools to reach people,” Fozio said. “This is an additional tool to reach people quicker, instead of social media or regular media.

“We’re hoping this is a very robust way to reach as many people as possible.”

The Medina County EMA imported phone numbers and email addresses that were registered with Everbridge, as well as the 911 database that only includes landline numbers. Fozio said residents are asked to register for the WENS service to make sure current information is in the system.

As many as five phone numbers and five email addresses may be entered.

“The 911 system is landline based,” Wadsworth Director of Public Safety Matt Hiscock said. “On this system, people can opt in or go to the site. It’s a way to receive notifications and be in the alert phase. It can be used in disasters, weather conditions and hazardous materials situations. It is system-intuitive.”

­For text alerts, subscribers may text the first five letters of their Medina County community to: 69310. For more extensive information — weather alerts, voice alerts, email alerts, text alerts and street specific alerts — residents are asked to register at www.medinacountyema.org.

Medina County business owners also can register for the service. For information, call (330) 722-9240.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.

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