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JoCo Emergency Management employees train to avoid false alarm like Hawaii

Posted at 2:24 PM, Jan 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-16 17:28:41-05

OLATHE, Kan. — Early Saturday morning, millions of cellphones in Hawaii began buzzing with an emergency warning about a missile attack.

State officials later explained it was a false alarm.

Johnson County Emergency Management recently switched to the same alert system used in Hawaii, called Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA.

"We are just now in the process of getting our staff trained up on using that system and working with FEMA to make sure that we have the system in place and everyone knows how to use it," said Sharon Watson, Johnson County Communications Director. 

For two months, employees have been training on the new system to ensure a mishap like in Hawaii does not happen here.

"You never want to send out something that's an error, you don't want to have the concern from the public, is this really a real event and the credibility that's lost there," said Watson. 

WEA is endorsed by FEMA and several other states are in the process of switching to the alert system. Though, a challenge of WEA is some alerts are pre-scripted. 

"Hopefully as the system gets some additional steps in place to prevent those types of things from being so easy, that will make it a much less likely situation here," said Watson. 

For the time being, Watson said Johnson County Emergency Management will use Notify JoCo to send emergency alerts to residents in the area.