Thursday December 11, 2008

Public agencies in Napa County now have the capability to issue emergency alerts over telephone lines to notify residents of emergency situations. This alert system will be used during the fall and winter months if serious flood threats develop, and for other types of emergencies as needed.

“These types of emergency call systems can save lives,” said Kerry Whitney, Napa County’s Emergency Services Manager.

In an emergency, officials can use the Wide Area Rapid Notification, or WARN, system to call land-line telephone numbers in Napa County with a recorded emergency message. Napa County has contracted for the service and has made it available to emergency responders from the cities of Napa, American Canyon, St. Helena and Calistoga; the town of Yountville; and the County Office of Education.

“Emergencies don’t recognize jurisdictional boundaries,” Whitney said. “The emergency officials in the county realized that we need one unified system, so first responders and residents alike will have the same experience whether they receive a call at home or on the job within Napa County.”

Thousand of calls can be made in a short period of time to pre-established lists of
telephone numbers, such as hospitals or home care facilities, or to specific geographic areas.

In order to quickly distinguish an emergency call from a telemarketing or solicitation call, WARN messages will begin with “This is an emergency message from …” followed by the name of the law enforcement or public agency issuing the message. After the recorded message, recipients will have the option to listen to the alert again.

Typically, the message will explain the nature of the emergency and the response that is under way, and offer the listener instructions on what to do or where to get more information, such as a hotline number or Web site.

The system has been available and in use since this summer, when it was used in the northern portion of the county to alert a rural neighborhood to a missing senior citizen; for specific area traffic alerts during a visit by President Bush; and during the Deer Park fire in October.

“We’ll be very pleased if we have no reason to use the system at all this winter,” said Whitney. “But it’s a great tool to help us help our residents if the need arises.”

More information can be obtained by contacting Kerry Whitney, County of Napa Emergency Services Manager at 707-253-4821 or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Elizabeth Emmett,County of Napa Public Information Officer at 707-253-4111 or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

(This story was provided by the County of Napa and is used on this website with permission.)