Warning sign program will be good for county

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

When it comes to emergency situations, getting information out to the public as quickly as possible is important.

In the past, emergency officials relied heavily on television and radio stations to get urgent warnings out fast. While those tools will continue to be important in emergency preparedness, with changes in today’s ever-evolving electronic society, alternatives are needed.

From digital music players to hand-held viewing devices that support everything from movies to television programming, local emergency service officials want to make sure they can reach the public effectively in times of need.

Recently, Brunswick County Emergency Services announced a new emergency alert program called the Billboard Emergency Alert System. BEAS seeks to connect with local businesses that have scrolling marquee signs so they can be utilized to get out emergency messages. From Amber Alerts for missing children to severe weather warnings, these marquees will become another valuable resource for emergency services.

Similar programs are already being used in other parts of the country. The program got its start in Anderson County, S.C.

Locally, the system will work by utilizing Brunswick County’s reverse 911 system. In case of an emergency, a call will go out alerting listeners of the situation. From there, business owners can include the appropriate warnings and messages on their marquees.

When there are updates, or the emergency situation is over, the reverse 911 system will be used again, this time giving listeners an all clear. After receiving the final call, business owners can then switch their marquees back to normal business messages.

Such signs exist in other places, like some schools and churches. The community would be well served if all those with such technology would sign up to take part in the program. By signing on, these important messages can be spread from the southernmost edges of the county to its most northern reaches.

We support this plan and encourage individuals, businesses and organizations that have access to such signage to come on board. Although a start date has not been formally set, emergency services officials hope to have the program up and running in the coming weeks.

If you’re interested in giving a little bit of time to make a big difference in the community’s safety, contact Christy DiFelice, special projects coordinator for emergency services, at 253-5383 or e-mail her at cdifelice@brunsco.net. By taking the time to answer a call and input information into a machine, you could be an important part of saving people’s lives.