Phone alert test slated

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WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla County’s new emergency notification system will come calling Thursday. The test of the Citizen Alert system will be the first trial of the phone notification capabilities of the system, said Jim Duncan, Emergency Management Department director. Although the phone notification will only be used in an emergency, it needs to be tested at least once a year. The system was used last week to send out a snow forecast warning, but only as an email and text message to people who have signed up online to receive notifications. Thursday’s phone test will occur once during the afternoon and again in the early evening. A 2 p.m. test will go to all businesses with listed telephone numbers. The second test at 5:30 p.m. will be a phone notification to all residents with listed phone numbers and to people who have registered online to receive emergency notifications. Thursday’s test will ask for people to acknowledge receipt by pressing a number at the end of the message. Duncan said people also need to note that the Citizen Alert system only has access to listed telephone numbers. People who want to receive emergency and public service notifications on their cellphones, pagers, PDAs and other devices need to register with the Emergency Management Department. While registration has been going well, Duncan said he would like to see many more people sign up for the free service. “We currently have about 200 citizens registered online to receive emergency and public service notifications. This is a good start for the first week but with a county population of about 58,000 people, we have a long way to go,” he said. Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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