Watch the video above: City monitors storm but mass notification system not needed
SASKATOON – Tornado watches were issued by Environment Canada on Thursday for several parts of Saskatchewan.
Emergency response teams in Saskatoon say they were keeping a close eye on the sky and monitored the system as the day progressed.
In the event of a tornado, a city-wide warning system would have come into effect, known as NotifyNOW.
“Tornados are a good example of something we would likely use it for because of that’s a weather system that’s changing quickly and so it’s hard to forecast and those are the sort’s of situations we want to be on top of is the things that people aren’t expecting,” said Anthony Tataryn, emergency measures coordinator with Saskatoon Fire Department.
The mass notification system that was launched in late March, can warn tens of thousands of people within seconds of an emergency or natural disaster.
At this point, officials say the City of Saskatoon has not issued any mass call-outs but its been successfully used by the Saskatoon Public School Board four times including an event where there was police activity in a neighbourhood adjacent to three schools.
“The school system decided to keep the students in, lock down the school until the area was cleared by police,” said Tataryn.
People have to subscribe in order to receive the system’s emergency alerts. If you do not sign up, you may still be contacted if your traditional, landline phone was listed in the 2013/2014 phonebook.
When registering, a resident can tailor their alert to the neighbourhoods they want to receive information about and the way to receive them.
“We have 8,000 opt-ins on top of the 75,000 households that we purchased and when we look at the household data and the mean of 2.5 people per household, it gives us about 180,000 people in the City of Saskatoon we can currently contact with our NotifyNOW system,” said Tataryn.
By September, officials say Saskatoon Light and Power should be part of the system so residents can receive information regarding any power outages.
The system is currently used in major cities like Boston and was used during the marathon bombing.
At the time of the launch, the big push by emergency crews was to get as much information to as many people possible so residents are better positioned to react to emergencies.
To register for NotifyNOW, visit the city’s website.