St. Louis County Launches Northland Alert Emergency System

Taylor Holt
December 13, 2017 11:05 PM

In emergency situations, often saving a life all comes down to time, and now, a new emergency communication tool is available to notify the public more quickly when these situations occur.

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It's called Northland Alert. St. Louis County in partnership with other local law enforcement agencies launched the system Wednesday.

"St. Louis County has a great risk of wildfire or in Duluth, there's flooding more often than not," said Duane Johnson, Emergency Management Coordinator with St. Louis County.

Johnson says those are just some of the reasons for rolling out the system. Everbridge was the vendor chosen for the system.

"We're a really large county, 72-hundred square miles, so the issue of getting an emergency message out to the public is critical," Johnson said.

The system has two parts. The first is an integrated public alert and warning system or IPAWS.

"This allows us to draw a circle on a map and define an area and push out a message to every cellphone in that area whether they are registered or not. It is similar to an Amber Alert," Johnson added.

The text message will provide details of the emergency and instructions of what actions people should take, such as to evacuate, shelter in place, or other steps to protect themselves.

"As a big tourist community, it's really good for us because we have a lot of people from out of the area that are here during emergencies, so now we can get the word out to local residents and visitors" said Shawn Krizaj, Deputy Fire Chief for the City of Duluth.

The other part is a free subscription option for people who want alerts for non-emergencies.

"In the city, right now we have (the alerts for) water outages and gas outages," said Krizaj.

For example, if you live in Duluth but have a cabin up in Virginia and you want alerts for both areas. You can just go on the Northland Alert website and click get public safety notifications under the Duluth and Virginia tab, and the notifications go straight to your phone.

"We're always trying to improve how we get the emergency message out to people," said Krizaj." We think this is a good way to do that."

Along with St. Louis County and Duluth, the cities of Hermantown, Hibbing and Virginia are also part of the system. People can also choose how and what agencies alerts' they want, and can opt out at anytime.

People can download the app called Everbridge. Otherwise, they can subscribe through the Northland Alert website.



Taylor Holt

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