New alert system introduced

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 6/12/24

TORRINGTON – For years now, summertime has certainly been playtime for the people of Goshen County. School is out, lake waters are perfect and the grills are flamed and fired up.

This …

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New alert system introduced


TORRINGTON – For years now, summertime has certainly been playtime for the people of Goshen County. School is out, lake waters are perfect and the grills are flamed and fired up.

This being said if there is one thing the Goshen Emergency Management team knows, summertime is also when temperatures get high, the ground gets dry and the wind starts to blow.

Add those three elements into a lightning strike during a severe storm and ultimately, it’s a time to be well prepared.

As Torrington Emergency Management Coordinator, Chuck Kenyon says, “It’s preparing for the worse and hoping for the best.”

With fellow emergency coordinators Thomas Bozeman (Goshen County) and Justin Burkart (Yoder) working tirelessly all winter in preparation for severe summer storms; all three are confident with newly acquired equipment and accessible technology residents can be hastily notified in the event of an emergency.

With summer street events in full swing as well as outdoor activities and sports, all three have made it abundantly clear the safety of everyone continues to remain priority number one as the warm months progress.

As Kenyon put it plainly, things are off to a great start thus far this summer with no serious problems or issues. 

And each coordinator would like to see it stay that way.

“In comparison to last summer things are starting even better,” Kenyon said. “We had the music on main last night, had awesome weather for it and it was great. Last year I think they cancelled it three or four times out of six because of the weather. We have been having average weather for May and June, but it has been better than last year.”

“We haven’t had as much moisture so far,” Bozeman added. “We haven’t had any intense storms except for the one which came through the Huntley area. The storm produced a tornado which touched down in the Table Mountain area and luckily caused no damage. Some of the other things we have done is to have our communication trailer up and running. We have our annual fire meeting we will be going to, and potentially there will be a fire ban at some point. We will probably be looking at that real soon. We are also making preparations not only on the EM (emergency management) side of things but also on the fire side with our units getting ready.”

As Kenyon, Bozeman, and Burkart would explain, indeed the assurance of the safety and well-being of residents remains crucially important. Nevertheless, personal responsibility and teamwork amongst occupants always remain a powerful tool in providing the same assurance.

In short, it would be wise for all residents to be doing their part in remaining aware and vigilant in what is happening around them, and what things look like outside up and above.

“What we would really like to see emphasized is personal responsibility as well as using our better judgment,” Kenyon added. “Everyone really needs to have a mass notification on their phone, and we need to be subscribing to it for the weather. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a weather radio in your home or where you happen to work.”

While choosing to touch base on everyone’s understandable wish to be alerted quickly in the event of a tornado or hail, Kenyon, Bozeman, and Burkart all pushed very heavily on residents downloading a brand-new emergency notification app entitled CivicReady.

“The new system we are moving to provides notifications for cellphones, landlines, wireless, text messaging and emailing for all alerts coming out as far as tornados, severe storms, floods, all those things,” Bozeman said. “If we sign up for it we will receive all alerts, as well as referencing smaller incidents for non-emergencies such as evacuation notices, road closures, winter closures, and things of that nature. When we have something such as the courthouse being closed due to weather or police incidents which can be major, all of this can get to you by either scanning the QR code, texting the number, or going to the website. So there are three ways to sign up and we want to start building our external database now. 

It should be noted all citizens are encouraged to visit the Goshen County and City of Torrington Emergency Management Facebook pages to sign up promptly.

According to the three EM coordinators, it is technological phone apps like these which can truly help residents be notified wherever they are. It would also mean no longer having to rely on other systems which perhaps use outdated means.

After all, as each man put it, technology is here to stay and we need to be utilizing it to the best of our ability. Of course, the use of outdoor sirens is still consistently being tested and properly maintained, but according to Kenyon and Bozeman, they are just not enough to keep individuals safe anymore in this day and age.

“We efficiently need to keep investing in them to keep them running and reliable,” Bozeman explained. “We have been testing them on a weekly rotational basis, but we have to understand outdoor sirens are for when we are outdoors, not indoors. We have been hearing a lot of concerns from folks saying they can’t hear the sirens from indoors. Remember, they are designed to be heard only when we are outside. This is why when we are inside, we can have CivicReady.”

Despite cell phones being an overwhelming commodity in this day and age with most citizens, the county EM team is still understanding of the fact some older folks may not be familiar with or interested in such technological approaches.

According to Kenyon CivicReady is the most beneficial yet easiest app to use for everyone, hence why EM has chosen this particular system.

“Think of how important it is for people who do not use cell phones,” Kenyon said. “Say the water department has to cut a water main off and it will affect four city blocks. We can fence off those four city blocks by sending a warning to only those residents saying you need to turn your water off. It’s just a message, not a warning, but you can message just those specific people. This also gives us a multilingual capability, and subscribers can sign up in languages other than English. So for people where English is a second language, they can certainly have the option to receive the language they wish to receive.”

As each coordinator stood up to return to their daily responsibilities in sustaining a high-level infrastructure for the county in case of an emergency, Burkart had one more piece of advice for all in the area wishing to remain safe.

The way Burkart put it, sirens and phone apps are essential and will always have their place moving forward. However, there is one last component when it comes to civic duty within small communities.

“I would encourage those who do not have a basement, a shelter, or even a cellphone to maybe make plans with a neighbor in case they do not have something already in place. Make those plans now, and don’t wait for a tornado to drop and wonder where to go. Have the plan in place and discuss it with the family so even the kids know. Everyone needs to be on the same page, so everyone knows what to do in the event of an emergency.”