SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — A new partnership between Shelby County leaders and FEMA is hoping to help people react the correct way in the case of an emergency.
“We want to make sure that we have every avenue available to make sure our citizens are safe as possible,” said Brenda Jones, Director of Emergency Management Homeland Security for Shelby County Government.
On Tuesday, Shelby County leaders announced the launch of the county’s new Integrated Public Alert Warning System, also known as IPAWS.
“Using new technologies, we’ll be able to reach more of our community with credible information around such a crisis,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris.
“We have the capability of notifying you of what action to take, what incident is happening and what action you need to take to keep yourself safe,” said Jones.
In case of an emergency, local authorities will now send an alert to FEMA. From there it will be verified and then sent out in a 360-character text to anyone in the affected area. Whether you are a resident or visitor, as long as you are connected to a Shelby County cell tower, you will receive an alert.
“This system is only used for major emergencies, major disasters, terroristic acts, imminent danger that could potentially pose an immediate threat to the citizens of Shelby County,” said Jones.
Leaders hope this new system will help everyone in Shelby County get the information they need in a time of crisis, like the location of a needed shelter, or the crime itself. Jones said this would help in cases similar to September’s mobile mass shooting.
“He’s in Frayser one minute, he’s in Raleigh one minute, and then the next minute he’s in Mississippi,” said Jones, “This person, he was mobile, he was shooting, killing random people, so absolutely he needed to be stopped.”
If you want to sign up for IPAWS, chances are you already are.
To sign up, go to your settings, open notifications and then turn on your respective government or emergency alerts.
“To receive these they have to go into notifications and accept notifications through this type of system, so communication is only effective if you have your system set to receive them,” said Arlington Fire Chief Jim Harvill.
“If you would like to receive an Amber Alert, you will automatically receive an IPAWS alert,” said Jones.
The alert system will be tested out by Shelby County once a month.