DARKE COUNTY — The head of Darke County’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) wants to assure Darke County residents the county’s April switchover to the MARCS (Multi-Agency Radio Communications System) will not leave them without warning in the event of a tornado or other disaster.
Darke County EMA Director Mindy Saylor said outdoor emergency warning sirens throughout the county will continue to remain operable, even if not immediately upgraded to be MARCS compatible.
“Up to around 2012, each village activated its own siren and this option is still available if we do not find a more affordable means to change them,” she said. “Whether it’s a police or fire department, they will still be able to activate their own siren(s).”
Saylor said there are a total of 21 sirens throughout the county’s villages and the City of Greenville has seven total.
“The sirens are owned and maintained by each municipality/village and one by Eldora Speedway,” she said. “None of the sirens are county owned.”
The sirens are activated by VHF radio tones, similar to the pager fire and EMS departments use, she said.
“Currently the [county’s] dispatch center has the primary responsibility to activate in a warning,” she continued. “However, each village has the capability to active it themselves also. Some have the fire department and others the police department, but they can activate it by a mobile or portable VHF radio also.”
Saylor said the decision to switch over each emergency siren for compatibility will not be cheap.
“The estimate we received from one vendor was roughly $14,000 per siren to change them over to 800 Mhz,” she said.
However, Saylor said as technology advances, so too have the ways people may be warned during a disaster scenario.
“While sirens are a good tool for alerting individuals to the possibility of a tornado, it’s important to note these sirens are outdoor warning devices,” she said. “As technology as evolved, so too have the options in which individuals can receive these notifications. Our office has been recommending NOAA Weather Radios for many years. These radios are at a relatively low cost, programmable with battery backup and will notify you directly from the National Weather Service to not only tornado warnings but many other watches and warnings.”
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