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Thursday, July 03, 2008 

A Comment on edhat says it all....

Here's what the Grand Jury had to say about radio and television as sources of emergency information:

Santa Barbara County has no single designated 24-hour radio station that residents can tune to for accurate updated emergency information. In contrast, the County of Ventura has an agreement with one designated radio station to act as its primary source of emergency information for the general public. A hotline has been installed in the Ventura County Emergency Operations Center that goes directly to the radio station, providing fast broadcast of updated and accurate information to its residents.

Santa Barbara County’s local media networks have been consolidated or purchased by large outside network companies, many of which use prerecorded broadcasting and have reduced or no staff on duty during most of the 24-hour day. Often County emergency public information personnel at the scene of an event will send out an emergency news alert to the news media which may result in limited or no response. This adversely affects the ability of emergency personnel to notify the general public of major events affecting them and increases the anxiety and confusion of the public. Events like the La Conchita earth-slide and the 2005 Gaviota fire were examples of this problem. The public was uninformed and confused due to the lack of timely and accurate information about evacuations and highway closures.

The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Services (OES) and emergency public information personnel need to work with representatives of our local broadcasting networks to develop a system of emergency notification and response that will allow vital information to flow rapidly from an event to the general public. The OES should establish an agreement with a local or out-of-county radio or television station that will act as our County’s designated station to provide emergency information 24 hours a day. This will require exploring new and innovative approaches to gathering and delivering information to the public utilizing our local media or even media outside our County.

These improvements should be joined with an aggressive public education program making residents aware of where to tune to in an emergency. --------------- If Ventura can do it, why can't we?

Call your Congresscritters and the FCC. It's time for low frequency, neighborhood "NON CORPORATIZED" radio to be made available in emergencies. You know...sometimes information should trump "entertainment"... safety over superficiality especially in time of wildfire, hurricanes and floods.

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That's amazing. In Florida every county has an agreement with an emergency station.

Actually, during a hurricane all of the local stations pool resources, including the public radio and television stations.

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