Preparing for the Worst, to Keep Franklin County Safe
As the Director of Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security (FCEM&HS), I am frequently asked the same question, What does your Agency do? As I answer this question, I continually respond with the phrase, “You may know us as the Agency responsible for the Tornado Sirens.” This almost instantly receives an understanding head nod and they have a picture in their mind of what that means. While the operation of the outdoor warning sirens only encompasses as very small portion of our daily work load, it is one of the main elements that impact and influence almost every citizen within Franklin County.
For many years, the Franklin County Outdoor Warning Siren System has served as the bread and butter of how we officially notify the public that a Tornado Warning has been issued for the Franklin County area. With the advent of cell phones, smart devices, social media and changing technology, the outdoor warning sirens retain their functionality, but are just one of our many methods utilized to provide alerts and warnings to the public.
In 2015, FCEM&HS began using the countywide mass notification and warning system, Alert Franklin County. This system compares to the Reverse 911 System and enables us to send alerts and warning information to roughly 900,000 phones within Franklin County. In addition, the system is customizable and allows residents to register and choose what kind of information they want to receive. By creating a unique profile, you are able to enter mobile phone numbers, e-mail addresses, prioritize the manner and order in which you are notified and select which severe weather and informational alerts you wish to receive and the location you would like to receive them. The system also offers a “Do Not Disturb” option, which enables you to limit the times you receive weather alerts, excluding Tornado Warnings.
In the aftermath of the EF-1 Tornado that struck Grove City in April 2018, several people commented to me that in addition to hearing the sirens, they were alerted of the warning by their phone and they headed to the basement before the storm struck. This clearly indicates the importance of being prepared before a disaster strikes. Preparedness is the key. A simple way to prepare is to register for Alert Franklin County at www.alertfranklincounty.org so that you may receive information on your smart and mobile devices.
I encourage you to know the different types of hazards facing Franklin County and develop and practice an emergency plan with your family and your pets. Know how you will communicate and have a designated safe meeting place. Build an emergency supply kit. Be sure to include enough food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours in case first responders are unable to get to you quickly. For more information on preparedness, please visit our website at www.fcemhs.org.
Director Young is a member of the Central Ohio Trauma System’s Regional Healthcare Emergency Preparedness (RHEP) Coalition Advisory Board (CAB) representing Franklin County and Emergency Management. The purpose of the RHEP Coalition is to improve an all hazard medical response in the central Ohio region through effective planning, coordinated exercises, and collaboration between regional healthcare organizations, emergency responders, local/regional emergency management directors, local public health, and other emergency response planners.
We thank Jeff for his service to the RHEP CAB and look forward to a continued partnership in improving outcomes and ensuring a state of readiness for our region.