Public Safety Services
(provided by the ECB and UW-Extension partnership)
The primary public safety service offered through the partnership of ECB and UW-Extension
is the Emergency Alert System. This federally mandated program was initially conceived as the primary means for the President of the United States to speak directly to citizens via simultaneous interruption of all radio and television broadcasts. As the program developed, the expansion of the scope of EAS to include insertion of state and local emergency information, as well as weather alerting, became a critical part of its structure. While the Presidential Interruption has never taken place, literally thousands of emergency weather announcements have been processed through ECB UW-Ex radio and television systems throughout Wisconsin since the EAS system was initiated in the mid 90’s.
A critical part of the EAS system is the State Relay, whereby WPR broadcast stations located throughout Wisconsin serve as the “backbone” of the over-the-air EAS system to deliver alerts and warnings to all other broadcast stations across the state. Wisconsin Public Radio and Television have served as the State Relay backbone since the inception of the EAS system
- Weather Warnings
Weather information, including severe weather watches and warnings, high wind and tornado events, and other weather-related messages are relayed to ECB from the NOAA Weather Service regional offices through a system of NOAA VHF weather radio stations located throughout the state. Our Wisconsin Public Radio and Television State Relay System sends emergency messages over WPR and WPT radio and TV channels to areas of the state affected by the severe weather. ECB is also the contracted supplier of maintenance and repair services to 13 of the federally funded NOAA weather transmitter stations in Wisconsin.
In addition, ECB itself has undertaken to build and operate an additional 13 weather service stations located in areas of Wisconsin where the federal weather service signal is spotty or unavailable-- and ECB maintains these sites as well. (see map for proposed stations) In 2011, ECB is scheduled to build an additional three weather service radio stations, bringing its total to 16, and will also relocate one existing station to provide better population coverage.
- Non-Weather Emergency Messages
In cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs Division of Emergency Management, ECB and UW-Extesnsion radio and television stations also serve as the delivery conduit for critical non-weather emergency messages throughout the entire state of Wisconsin. NWEM messages include such alerts as Civil Danger Warning, Evacuation Immediate Warning, Hazardous Materials Warning, Nuclear Power Plant Warning, Radiological Hazard Warning, and Shelter in Place Warning. These alerts can be localized to specific areas of the state as circumstances dictate through selective activation of alerts at specific ECB andUW-Extension radio and television facilities.
- Amber Alerts
The Child Abduction Alerts (AMBER) are a special type of alerting developed over the past ten years to enable quick localized public and law enforcement response to cases of child abductions within state lines. ECB developed a dedicated “Amber Alert” network system which links law enforcement agencies to the existing EAS system and allows activation of these alerts by authorized personnel. Amber Alerts can be localized to specific areas of the state when circumstances dictate. ECB and Public Broadcasting continue to work closely with Wisconsin Emergency Management in maintaining and further developing this alerting capability.
- Other Alerts
The EAS system is constantly being improved, with the objective of providing many times of “All Hazards” warnings to the general public throughout the state. The next generation of EAS, now in development, will also permit state government to deliver executive-level messages to the entire state if required, and will provide additional specialty warning messages as recommended by other governmental agencies.