Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A 9-1-1 Outage Part 1: Here's What Happend, and What We Know

During the early hours of April 10th 2014, 9-1-1 Centers throughout Washington State, including CRESA, experienced a significant 9-1-1 outage.  Here at CRESA, we quickly took steps to ensure public safety as a top priority.  We investigated and reported the outage to our 9-1-1 phone provider and kept in contact with that provider, the State Emergency Management Division and other 9-1-1 centers throughout the outage.  We also provided a ten digit number for the public to use until the system was restored.  We shared that information as quickly as possible using the most effective methods we felt viable based on the time of day. We notified Fire Departments, Law Enforcement agencies, City and County Officials about the outage with the information we had. We also contacted area hospitals, and even large private sector organizations (such as care facilities) that utilize 9-1-1 frequently and advised them of the outage and shared with them the ten digit number to call for assistance.

So What Happened?

Coordination between  9-1-1 dispatch centers and with the 9-1-1 service provider, Century Link, quickly determined that the the outage was statewide with the exception of two counties, (Skamania and Garfield Counties). During the outage, some 9-1-1 calls continued to be received by the 9-1-1 centers, however approximately 80 % of 9-1-1 calls failed.  9-1-1 service was fully restored to all 9-1-1 centers statewide by 8:00 AM on Thursday, April 10, 2014.

What We Know:

The following statement was released by CenturyLink, the State's 9-1-1 phone provider within hours of the outage being resolved.
"CenturyLink and Intrado, our vendor partner, are working together and are confident that the 9-1-1 system is fully operational, stable and working as designed.
Intrado provides 9-1-1 services to CenturyLink through its fully redundant 9-1-1 system. The service disruption was due to an isolated issue in Intrado’s system that impaired call routing, which prevented the system from properly processing calls and launching their system’s redundancy.  Intrado has done three things to ensure the same 9-1-1 outage will not occur:
  1.  Resolved a software issue that prevented the proper processing of the 9-1-1 calls
  2.  Added additional alarms and raised the visibility of the alarms within the operations control center and
  3. Enhanced processes to ensure similar software issues do not occur

CenturyLink and Intrado place customer safety and reliable communications as top priorities and will continue to work together to ensure effective 9-1-1 communications."
                                                                                         

CRESA Director, Anna Pendergrass, states "The State of Washington is continuing to trouble shoot, identify and implement practices to insure this does not happen again.  They are the ones that will need to answer any further questions about what the issues turn out to be and what steps they are going to put into place to assure all the PSAPs (911 Centers) and the citizens in the State that our 9-1-1 system  is reliable."

Washington State 9-1-1 Contact:   Wendy Freitag.
                                                 Email: wendy.freitag@mil.wa.gov.
                                                 Phone: 800-688-8955

Here at CRESA we are determined to provide reliable 9-1-1 call taking services for residents, those visiting, and anyone traveling through Clark County.  In the coming weeks we will share lessons learned from the outage as well as what steps you can take to be prepared if something like this were ever to happen again.

Information sources:  Washington State Chapter APCO - NENA Outage Statement 
                                    Century Link Statement on Outage





Thursday, March 6, 2014

Taking a Few Minutes Now Could Matter When....

Minutes could make the difference in your safety, when bad things happen!!  it's important that you are connected to ensure you get the information needed especially when that bad thing may be in your own neighborhood.  It's not too far fetched, to imagine something happening in your neighborhood and we need to contact you to either shelter-in-place or evacuate.  As we have discussed before, it is important to register your mobile or VOIP (Voice Over Internet Phone) to help us notify you!!

Clark County along with our neighboring counties in Southwest Washington are in the process of transitioning from our current Emergency Community Notification System to a new system by the first part of April.  As part of that transition we are asking the public to once again register your mobile and VOIP devices to ensure you receive notice if we need to notify you.

During the process of transitioning from one company, to our new vendor, we have done our best to ensure all your numbers that you had registered prior transferred also, however we are encouraging everyone to register and re-register your devices with the new system.

Besides ensuring your numbers and address are correct and up to date, there are some additional reasons we think its a good idea to once again register your mobile devices.


  1. Additional methods of receiving notifications - The new system allows you to include not only SMS or text messaging for notification but also email.
  2. Additional Phones per household - The new system allows you to register multiple phones to your address at one time including multiple cell phones. 
  3. No Email or Account Needed - The old system required individuals to create an account and have an email address to sign up for the registry.   That is not a requirement in the new system.

So please, take a few minutes to help us help you and register your mobile phones. This link will take you to our sign up page.   Here is more information on why and methods to of getting notification.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Flood Watch for Clark County

The National Weather Service (NWS) Portland has issued a Flood Watch for our surrounding area, including Clark County which should last until sometime Monday.  A Watch means that there is potential for flooding based on current forecasts.

No major rivers in Clark County are forecasted to flood, according to the NWS.  Creeks, however may continue to cause difficulties, being at bank full and we already know that roadways are covered and are ponding.  See the current river forecasts here and click on the rivers that you are interested in viewing.  (Again, all of our rivers are currently listed as "green", no flooding.)

Heaviest Rain still coming (starting as early as late Sunday afternoon – late evening).  In speaking with the NWS about our county, they anticipate that we will have an even heavier period of rain that will last from 12-18 hours that is of the most concern.  This will start Sunday, maybe as early as late afternoon to early evening, but also has the possibility of not starting till just before midnight Sunday evening.  We could see another 1-2 inches of rain in most of the county, with 2-4 inches in the foothills and over 4 inches in the higher ground areas.  We will hopefully be out of this concern sometime Monday. 

Please slow down and drive safe during these very rainy periods. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Police Officers Looking For Wanted Subject Near FargherLake

Clark County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a wanted subject in the area of Fargher Lake near Amboy.   The subject may have stolen a vehicle in the area.  Call 911 immediately if your vehicle has been stolen. The suspect is a white male, 5 foot 8 inches and 160 lbs with brown hair, hazel eyes and neck tattoos.  Call 911 immediately if you see anything suspicious in the area.  

UPDATE: The wanted fugitive was located and arrested in Lynden, WA.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Survive the snow and ice? Time to prepare for wind and rain.





And You Thought It Was Time To Relax...

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory 10 pm Tuesday until  6 am Wednesday, 20-30 mph with gusts 40-45 mph.

Winds may produce tree damage causing power disruptions and possibly disrupting travel on some roads.  A Wind Advisory is issued when sustained winds are forecast to be 31-39 mph or gusts will range between 45-57 mph.  Winds of these magnitudes may cause minor property damage without extra precautions.  Motorists in high profile vehicles should use caution until the winds subside.

Flooding Potential for SW Oregon, with some Clark County creeks at bank full Friday-Saturday.
Keep your street drains clear of snow and debris

Given the fact that we’ve all been peeled to the weather forecasts with our recently winter blast, there shouldn't be any surprise that we are expecting a warmer and very wet week with plenty of rainfall.  The strongest storms will move in Tuesday night/early Wednesday with another storm expected Friday with heavy participation continuing into early next week.  At this time, Clark County is north of most of the expected flooding potential but history tells us that can change quickly.  

The NWS only expects us to have some creeks reaching bank full on Friday or Saturday.  They are moderately confident that most of the flooding potential will remain in SW Oregon, with some of the potential pushing up into the Willamette Valley (not Clark County).  Creeks reaching bank full can cause localized neighborhood and street flooding and ponding.  We will keep an eye on this storm and work closely with the NWS to monitor any flooding potential for Clark County. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

What Was That Sound Coming From My Phone?

Late season snow storm leads to long commutes.
How many of you were awakened by a loud air raid sounding alarm Sunday morning?

If you were, you now know what the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) sounds and looks like.

You may have received similar alerts for recent AMBER Alerts for missing and endangered children, but this was one of the first times it was used in the region for a weather event.

The City of Portland issued the alert urging residents to stay indoors as the snow and ice storm intensified. Some of you outside Multnomah County may have received the alert due to the systems utilization on cell towers, see explanation below.
WEA issued on February 8, 2014

With a new year upon us, we have seen a LOT of weather advisories, especially with Snowpacolypse 2014. When weather emergencies occur, warnings can save lives.  In this day and age, traditional warning methods such as television, radio, and perhaps an outdoor siren won't reach everyone.

Emergency Officials now have a new warning tool to send messages to cell nearly all mobile phones in an affected area.  These short 90 character messages are announced by a loud and unique alarm.  The messages can be sent to all cell phones within range of  designated cell towers via the federally coordinated Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS).

 Currently the system can only alert an entire county if there is an emergency within that area, there is no to scale down the alert area.  The alert will only give you a brief explanation of the hazard. You should to turn to other sources, such as television or your NOAA All-Hazard radio, to get more detailed information about what is happening and what actions  you should take.

The Three Types of Wireless Emergency Alerts:

The Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) can be used to broadcast three types of emergency alerts:
  • Presidential Alerts - Issued by the U.S. President in the event of a nationwide emergency.
  • Emergency Alerts - Typically issued by the National Weather Service; in the Portland/Vancouver  Metro area, these would include tornado, flooding, volcano, ice storm and blizzard warnings. 
  • AMBER Alerts - Issued by law enforcement to share information about child abduction.  

Please Do Not Turn Alerts Off!

As appears on Iphone
Most likely your phone gives you the option to turn off or opt out of receiving AMBER Alerts and Emergency Alerts.  We strongly urge you to leave both alert categories on until local agencies can get the kinks worked out of the system.  System errors may cause duplicate and redundant messages.  We know these alerts can get very annoying, but turning off them off takes a very powerful tool away from alerting agencies. 

For Illustration only. 

Is Your Phone Ready for WEA?  

If you have an older model phone, you may not receive the Wireless Emergency Alerts.  Most newer model phones of the iPhone and Android models are currently coming with this added feature.  
Check with your service provider to find out if your phone is WEA-capable.  AT&T, Cricket, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon all have information about the new alert system on their websites.  



Key Things to Know: 

  • WEA messages may will appear over your home screen, even if your phone is locked.
  • The alert message will include a unique ringtone and vibration.
  • You will never be charged for WEA messages.
  • Emergency alerts will not interrupt any calls or downloads in progress. If you’re on the phone when the alert goes out, you’ll get the message when you end your call.
  • You need not have GPS or any other special features turned on to receive the alerts. 
  • The system does not identify your location or phone number — it simply sends the message to all devices in a given area.
  • If you’re on the road and enter an area with an active warning, you’ll receive a WEA message as soon as you come within range of one of the affected cell towers.
  • Regardless of your phone number or area code you will get the alert if you are in the designated area.
  • No phone registration is required to receive WEA alerts.

Cell Tower Geography May Lead to Over-Warning:

Because cell towers broadcast in a radius or circle, their coverage areas don't line up neatly with county boundaries.  This means you may receive warnings for an adjacent county if you are within a few miles of the border.  For example if you are in Camas, WA you may receive the alert from Multnomah County.

The alerts are delivered directly from cell tower to cell phone through a one-way broadcast.  The Commercial Mobile Alert System does not track or locate individual cell phones or phone numbers - it simply broadcasts to all phones within range.  Unfortunately in some cases, this may result in over-warning.

For example, if a weather warning is issued for a particular county, it will go to all towers that serve that county.

Towers in urban areas generally serve a radius of two to five miles, and in rural areas up to 10 miles, so the warning message may reach a little beyond the warning boundaries.

The weather alert sent on Saturday was a good example of this.  Eventually these alerts will get to where we can pin point a smaller affected area instead of the entire county.  Until then, please be patient as these alerts will improve over time.

** Some Information and pictures shared from preparemetrokc.org

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Road Block Update and Traffic Maps #clarkwa

Collision on SB I-5 at Toutle Hill (Cowlitz/Lewis county line) now clear.

Ridgefield on-ramp blocked on Hwy 502 WB at I-5 #PDXtraffic #clarkwa

[MAP] Portland Traffic Report here

[MAP] Vancouver Traffic here

^jl

Vancouver Traffic and Cameras




Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Weather Update for SW Washington

Synopsis of the Wednesday morning  Weather Update from the Portland Office of the National Weather Service for the Greater Vancouver Area, South Cowlitz CO and Western Skamania CO
Confidence level in these forecasts are moderate to high (It will happen) Confidence level in the timing is moderate to low (it may happen sooner or later than indicated).  For detailed maps and information please go to

Wednesday     
 Windy   30 to 40 MPH with gusts to 55MPH in Clark and Cowlitz- 40 to 50 with 75 MPH gusts in              Skamania
Thursday        
Snow in the afternoon possible     Light dusting to 1 inch     lows in the teens to the 20’s and highs in the 20’s
Friday
Snow showers all day probable accumulation up to 5 inches   lows in the teens to the 20’s and highs in the 20’s
Saturday
Snow changing to sleet then freezing rain throughout the day    freezing rain accumulation ¼ to ½ in  lows in the teens to the 20’s and highs in the 20’s
Sunday
Freezing rain changing to rain throughout the day    accumulation ¼ to ½ in    lows in the 20’s and 30’s and highs in the 30’s or 40’s

Impact
          Thursday       am commute none anticipated
       pm commute may be slower due to early snow dusting
           Friday           am commute may be slower due to snow showers with some accumulation of 1-2 inch
                                pm commute will be slower due to snow showers with accumulations up to 5 in
Saturday      sleet turning to freezing rain accumulating on top of the snow will make road travel hazardous throughout the area for most of the day. 
Sunday          freezing rain turning to rain as temperatures increase will make road travel hazardous throughout the region for most of the day

Monday         am commute none anticipated as forecast models show rain and temperatures in the 40’s

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

“No Non-Emergency Line?”



Many of you may have seen that WCCCA, Washington County 9-1-1 is starting a campaign on “You Called 911 for That?!” where they are posting the most crazy call of the week on their Facebook page and Twitter account.
9-1-1 does receive nuisance calls on a daily basis and I’m sure CRESA could add more than a few to the list. In fact, the Canadian “Vancouver” to our north recently posted a list of the top 10 most absurd 9-1-1 calls.   

Within the social media comments on KGW-TV; however, CRESA noticed an important question about why CRESA does not currently have a non-emergency number for the public to call.   That is an excellent question and the answer has a lot to do with technology.  Unlike the 911 lines, our current phone system does not provide caller name, address or call back number on our business lines.  Because we feel it is important to have that information no matter if it’s an emergency or non-emergency and because the same people who answer our 911 lines would also be answering our non-emergency line, we have chosen to have all calls for police, fire and medical come in on our 9-1-1 lines.

We acknowledge this is not a perfect plan and we intend on establishing a non-emergency number with the replacement of our telephone system sometime later this year.  With our new system we expect to have a non-emergency line for our citizens to call that will provide caller ID.  As we work on this very important project we will keep our community informed.  
  
What is important to know right now is that, when there are multiple simultaneous 911 calls, the very first question you may hear in Clark County is “Is This an in-progress Emergency?”  If you do not have an emergency, say “no” immediately.  This allows us to triage the call so that emergency calls are prioritized over non-emergency calls.  If you are calling about a non-emergency and we have other 911 calls, you may be placed on-hold until all emergency calls have been taken. 


CRESA is always looking for creative ways to educate and inform people about our 9-1-1 services.  If you have ideas on how to positively get these messages across, please let us know. We are stronger and smarter and better together!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Clark County Hazmat Response Planning Committee to Meet on January 28

The Clark County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) will hold its annual business meeting at 2 PM on Tuesday, January 28 at the Vancouver Community Library. The purpose of the meeting is to review the Clark County Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Plan and to take care of other required committee business. The meeting is open to the public and public involvement is encouraged. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions about the Hazmat Plan and to provide comments on it.  

The Vancouver Community Library is located at 901 C Street in Vancouver, Washington (98660).  Due to potential space limitations, anyone interested in attending is encouraged to notify the LEPC administrator, John Wheeler, at (360) 992-6271 or john.wheeler@clark.wa.gov.

In accordance with the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), each county in Washington State is required to have an LEPC. The LEPC is responsible for making information about local hazardous materials available to the public and for the development and maintenance of the county's emergency plan for responding to hazardous materials incidents.  The updated plan is available on the LEPC website along with other information about the LEPC.