In emergencies officials can notify residents quickly

May 29, 2013

The city of Springtown – like most cities in Parker County – relies on the county’s Emergency Management Coordinator (and Fire Marshal) Shawn Scott for information and instruction.
Janice Stroud, assistant emergency management coordinator for Parker County, said staff in her office constantly monitors weather, although the Emergency Operations Center is only activated during true or impending emergency situations.
When severe weather threatens, the National Weather Service activates storm spotters from all area fire departments, who continuously update the Parker County EMC, Stroud said.
Every city located within Parker County utilizes its EMC, but according to Texas law, the mayor of each city is designated that city’s Emergency Management Coordinator.
Upon the city’s request during or after an emergency, the county EMC will respond to help. In the event the county cannot provide the necessary resources, the county can then request help from the Texas EMC, according to Stroud.
The Parker County EMC website is frequently updated and is a good resource for residents. Located at www.parkercountyemergencymanagement.com, the site offers valuable information to keep residents informed and prepared.
Parker County residents may also sign up (or opt out) for the county’s Blackboard Connect service at the website. Blackboard Connect calls may be initiated by the EMC for any number of reasons when the objective is to notify the general public of an emergency situation.
Residents can choose whether to be notified by a telephone call to their land line or cell phone and/or receive a text message or an email.
Stroud also pointed out that cities with sirens don’t reserve the use of those sirens strictly to warn residents of impending tornadoes anymore.
“Sirens work best to let people who are outdoors know there is some type of emergency – any type of emergency, in fact,” Stroud said. “If you hear a siren, you should immediately go indoors and turn on your radio or TV, and, if possible, use a computer to check news reports.”
During the tornado outbreak of May 16, in which at least 16 tornadoes scoured North Texas – most notably an EF-4 that killed six people in Granbury – the Blackboard Connect system was used to notify county residents that severe weather was imminent.
Parker County Judge Mark Riley also updated his Facebook page with up-to-the-minute weather information.
In the city of Azle, Fire Chief Will Scott also acts as Emergency Management Coordinator.
The city’s new Central Station 52 is equipped with a large room specifically designed to act as an Emergency Operations Center should it become necessary to activate one.
Scott said that while the EOC hasn’t been entirely set up yet as the department continues to settle into its new building, he does have the capability to run an EOC from his office until the official EOC is ready to go.
Azle, too, offers Blackboard Connect. Simply go to www.cityofazle.org and click on “Blackboard Connect Notification” to sign up or opt out.

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