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Special News Series: Silence During Crisis

October 3rd, 2023 by WCBC Radio

In our series this week, Silence during Crisis, WCBC News looks at how emergency information is disseminated to the public in our unique geographical area with multiple county jurisdictions and 3 state lines within the listening area. 

911 Joint Communication Center dispatch emergency responders to an incident, and is also responsible for initiating alerts to off duty emergency responders, command staff as well as local media. This information is forwarded to individuals, and in the case of broadcast media, it is the responsibility of that individual to provide the emergency information to the public. This is a manual operation in which a human must physically prepare, research and broadcast the information to the public rather than through an automated emergency alert message.

This becomes problematic for many radio stations locally as most are automated with no On-Air staff. Unlike WCBC, which is live during day operations, but automated overnight. This is in fact why the emergency alert system is an automated process. So no human locally is needed for an alert to be provided to a community. County Emergency Services departments can initiate an alert by contacting the state Emergency Operations Center and have a message formatted for a specific jurisdiction.  Although within the comprehensive emergency management plans there is no specific threshold to determine what is and what should not be a public alert.

Luke McKenzie, Director of Mineral County Emergency Services explains how they initiate an alert to the community and the utilization of press releases to disseminate information to local media…

Roger Bennett, Deputy Director for Allegany County Emergency Services says that they depend upon the Maryland joint operations center to push alerts to the community…

Long gone are the days of Civil Defense. During the Cold War, our region had air raid sirens throughout the county, along with exercises of Duck and Cover. Many of those sirens today are used to alert Volunteer Fire Crews of a alarm. Seconds count when life-saving actions must be taken. As County officials work with State Emergency Management to formulate a message it is most likely that your first awareness of a serious crisis will be that of local emergency responders driving the streets making announcements over public address system on their vehicles.

Tomorrow in our news series, Silence During Crisis, we prepare for the National Level Exercise that will be initiated just after 2:20PM on Wednesday.

To subscribe for emergency alerts from Mineral County Emergency Services visit
Local Emergency Service web pages to subscribe and follow for alerts in your community:

Garrett County Emergency Services

Allegany County Emergency Services

Bedford County Emergency Services

Mineral County Emergency Services