Coastal Areas emergency alert system FAQs

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1 Coastal Areas emergency alert system FAQs What is the Stinger? The Stinger Mobile Alert System was developed by a local business in partnership with Hastings Civil Defence and GNS science for use in the coastal communities around Hawke s Bay. It is called the Stinger as it broadcasts the Civil Defence Sting Tone (as well as a voice message) and we use this name in publications and advertising. What were our mobile alerting system requirements? During the early stages of development it was determined that the Stinger must include the following features: 1. A unit which could easily deployed where and when it is required 2. It could be operated by one person 3. Had its own power supply and not be totally reliant on mains power 4. Be able to broadcast both the Civil Defence Sting tone and a voice message What is its purpose? The Stinger is attached to a vehicle and driven around streets in areas affected by the emergency. It broadcasts the Civil Defence tone followed by a voice message which is loud enough to be heard inside homes and buildings. It is portable which allows flexibility for use during localised events (including fires, localized flooding and hazardous substance spills). What was GNS science input into the development of the Stinger? The involvement of GNS Science in the design process, ensured we had access to the best scientific advice possible during the development of a unit which suits the specific requirements of our coastal communities.

2 What makes up the Stinger unit? The Stinger has four separate components: 1. A magnetic roof mount. 2. The Stinger speaker unit. 3. Control box (including 10 pre-recorded messages on USB sticks and a handheld microphone) 4. Sealed lead acid battery (Gives 1.5 hours of continuous use at full volume). Any vehicle which will regularly transport the Stinger will have wiring installed which will allow the use of the vehicle battery. How far does the sound carry? The Civil Defence emergency tone can be heard up to 500 metres from the vehicle and the voice message up to 200 metres (in ideal conditions). What are the stinger messages? There are ten pre-recorded messages which cover every emergency situation. Each message is no longer than 15 seconds in length and is preceded by the CD sting tone. The vehicle travels through the streets at a speed of km/h which allows the message cycle to be repeated every 3-5 houses. (You can hear the messages at

3 Why use the sting tone and a voice message? The Civil Defence Sting tone is different from every other siren, which helps avoid confusion. The voice message will identify the reason for the emergency and the action which residents need to take to keep safe. This message can also be easily understood by tourists and visitors to the area. How many Stinger units have been built? Hastings Civil Defence has eight stingers at present and more may be ordered if the results of the testing in coastal areas in April 2012 identify a further need. Where will the Stingers be located? Stingers will be based in the communities in which they are most needed. These communities will have identified civil defence volunteers or other emergency services personnel who are authorised to use the equipment and have been trained in the operation of the stinger. How will communities be alerted where there are no Stingers? In the event of an emergency, the nearest available Stinger will be deployed to the affected community. One Stinger will also be permanently based at the Council Emergency Management Office in central Hastings, for rapid deployment where required. What if the stinger malfunctions and cant be used? In the event of a malfunction during use, a stinger from another community can be redeployed after it has finished its route, or the unit based at the Emergency Management Office can be put into operation. Will the Civil Defence Volunteers who operate the Stinger be in danger prior to a tsunami making landfall? No volunteer or Emergency Service personnel will be placed in a dangerous situation. Strict guidelines have been developed which will determine when all emergency personnel must be out of the danger area. This will generally occur 30 minutes prior to the impact of a tsunami. What if the roads are badly damaged? This would be considered a natural warning and an indication that a major event has occurred. You should listen to the radio for instructions.

4 What other alerting systems does the Hastings District Council use in the event of an emergency? 1. Route alerts street by street notification (including public address announcements from an Emergency Vehicle and going door to door) 2. Point contacts (usually by phone) to places of special vulnerability, significance or mass assembly (daycares, resthomes and other key facilities) 3. Media Radio, television and websites. 4. Network contacts this includes groups including Neighbourhood Support and home childcare providers who can get emergency information to the public. Other methods of communication which are being considered; 1. Portable signage: This provides a visual warning of hazards and the need to take action eg you should evacuate the area 2. Fixed alert signs, at entry points to particular communities: These signs will notify residents who are returning home that an emergency operation is underway. (The location of these signs may also become cordon points should the need to evacuate arise). 3. Social networking: Emergency information will be distributed on twitter and facebook. Why not tone only sirens? Fixed, tone only sirens have a number of disadvantages; 1. Tone only sirens do not tell residents what the emergency is, or what action to take. When a fixed siren sounds it means, listen to your local radio station. However, the siren can t be activated until the message is ready for broadcast on the radio and this can take some time. In the middle of the night, most radio stations in Hawkes Bay are syndicated out of larger centres and it can take some time to get staff to the local station to record the emergency message 2. Tone only sirens are reliant on electricity (in many cases 3 phase). If there is a power failure (number five in the Top Ten Hazards) the siren may not work 3. Tone only sirens are easily confused with other sirens (fire sirens) 4. The public needs to be continually educated on what they should do when the siren sounds

5 Is Hastings District Council looking at fixed sirens? We are currently researching the need for fixed versions of the Stinger to be installed in areas where we either, do not have a Civil Defence Volunteer group or where, during particular times of the day, group members are unavailable. Our requirements for a fixed system are: a) the battery should be trickle charged from the mains with a solar power backup b) able to be remotely activated by radio from the Emergency Operations Centre at Hastings District Council. Other information on Civil Defence emergency s Why cant we warn effectively about a local source Tsunami? A local source tsunami is generated by an undersea earthquake which is located close to Hawkes Bay. The tsunami wave will travel very quickly to coastal areas and there are no sensors or buoys in the bay that can give an adequate warning. There may however be a natural warning for a local source Tsunami. This would involve prolonged shaking from the earthquake (lasting a minute or more), unusual noises coming from the sea or the sea rapidly receding. In the event of any one of these occurrences, you should immediately head inland or get to high ground, using evacuation routes if possible. What is the difference between a Natural warning and an Official warning? Natural warnings come from the noticeable effects of the events themselves. An official warning originates from Civil Defence and will always be science based. Why is science based alerting used? Every warning that is issued by Civil Defence must be backed by the best scientific advice and research available. This ensures that the warning comes in response to real, known events or threats and that the integrity and public trust in the alert system remain high. (we won t cry wolf) What are our top ten hazards for Hawkes Bay? Follow the link below to find out more on the top ten hazards which may affect local residents Group/Hazards-in-Hawke-s-Bay_IDL=2_IDT=496_ID=1811_.html

6 Do you have any further questions about our public alerting system? Can we put in a box here for the question?

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