County Tests Alert Message System

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Nearly 2.5 million Orange County citizens, including Newport Beach residents, received an alert this week as part of an emergency mass notification test.

Residents received a phone call and e-mail at 10 a.m. Thursday to test AlertOC, the county’s public mass notification system.

This was the sixth annual regional test of the system, which is conducted every September in conjunction with National Preparedness Month.

Residents in Newport Beach, 26 other participating cities, and Orange County’s unincorporated areas made this year’s effort the largest test AlertOC has ever conducted.

The drill replicated a large-scale, multi-jurisdictional emergency requiring thousands of numbers to be called simultaneously across Orange County.

AlertOC was “designed to keep those who live or work in Orange County informed of important information when there is an emergency situation affecting the health, safety, or welfare of a community,” according to a press release from the city of Newport Beach.

Numbers are obtained from the 911 emergency databases. Cell, cable and internet-based (VOIP) phone systems are not a part of this data and need to be self-registered.

AlertOC sends time-sensitive voice messages from the county or city in which the resident lives or works to their home, cell or business phone. Text messages may also be sent to cell phones, e-mail accounts and hearing impaired receiving devices.

The program allows residents to register more than one contact method at a specific address. This enables landlines, cell phones, and e-mail addresses to be incorporated into a single notification system.

“Public safety officials feel it is critical that all residents and businesses provide additional contact channels,” the AlertOC website reads.

There are many instances when a resident may not be at home to receive an emergency message, according to officials.

“Registrations of cell phone and alternate numbers dramatically increase the potential of reaching the greatest number of community members as rapidly as possible,” the city explains in the message. “The annual test serves as a good reminder to make sure your e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers are accurately entered into the system.”

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