More than 100 sign up for emergency alerts from St. Lawrence County; notifications can be sent to computers, phones
Saturday, October 13, 2012 - 8:19 am

By JIMMY LAWTON

CANTON -- More than 100 people have signed up for St. Lawrence County Emergency alerts since the service became available approximately two weeks ago.

County Emergency Services Director Joseph Gilbert said he is enthusiastic about the number of sign-ups his department has received.

"I think it's great," he said.

The alerts allow anyone with and computer, cellular phone or mobile electronic device to receive updates ranging from weather alerts and school closures to hazardous wastes and brush fires.

Gilbert, who took over the department in May, said people like to know what is going on, when its happening. He said emergency responders have always relied on media entities, such as radio, television and newspapers to alert the public, but when issuing a press release there is always a lag time.

"We are trying to cut that time down to as little as possible and this service allows us to send it directly to anyone who signs up as soon as we post it," he said.

Although the alerts are a welcomed addition, Gilbert says he wants to offer the public a choice in what alerts they receive.

The current service issues all alerts throughout the county to anyone who has signed up for them. He said the end goal would allow the public to sign up for specific alerts or notifications that are more local.

"If there is a bridge out in Massena and you live in the Town of Fine, you might not want that popping up on your phone because you don't care," he said. "We would eventually like to allow people to pick and choose alerts that affect them."

Gilbert said the service will require funding to achieve and he doesn't plan on going to the local tax base to foot the bill.

"We are hoping to pay for this upgrade with a grant," he said.

To sign up for the service, send an email to citalert@stlawco.org.

The service is confidential.