Office of Emergency Management

Emergency Communications

Emergency communications involves passing critical information between different parties involved in an emergency.  These communications may take the form of public alerting, mass notification systems, means of requesting help, communications for first responders, and backup or alternative means of communications when primary systems are down.

Public Alerting

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a partnership of FEMA, NOAA, FCC, and local media stations.  The system was originally created for a nationwide message by the President, but is commonly used by the National Weather Service and local authorities for severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, and civil emergencies.  The alerts are sent through broadcasters, satellite digital audio services, direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems and wireless cable systems.

Recent advances have extended EAS capabilities to cell phones via Wireless Emergency Alerts.  These alerts are sent to all cell phones within a targeted geographic area.  Cell phones receiving the alert sound a warning tone and display the warning message.  While users can disable certain types of WEA messages, we urge users to keep them turned on for their own safety and that of those around them.

To receive public alerts:

  • Monitor local media channels (broadcast radio, broadcast TV, and cable TV)
  • Obtain a weather radio and set up the local frequency (find frequencies here)
  • Keep WEA alerts enabled on your cell phone

Public Alerting Resources:

Mass Notification Systems

Organizations may choose to set up mass notification systems that can distribute information to their employees, stakeholders, or other parties.  These often provide automated phone messages, text messages, email, or other services.

9-1-1 Dispatch

Residents can request assistance from local police, fire, and EMS services via the Kalamazoo County Consolidated Dispatch by calling or texting 9-1-1.

First Responder Communications

The Kalamazoo Office of Emergency Management supports area first responders via radio caches, generators, communications trailers, a mobile command center, and expertise in field operations.

Auxiliary Communications

The dedicated volunteers of the Kalamazoo AUXCOMM (Auxiliary Communications) / RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) group provide expertise in passing communications using voice, video, and data across alternate communications mediums such as licensed radio in the event that established radio systems are down, degraded, or overloaded.