Washoe County Announcement

First in the State: Bilingual in Emergency Testing
Washoe County and partners successfully test first dual-language emergency alert

Media Release
For Immediate Release
www.washoecounty.us

Contact: Amy Ventetuolo
aventetuolo@washoecounty.us
775.328.2070

Reno, Nev. Jan. 12, 2018. As the EAS (Emergency Alert System) in America approaches its 55th birthday, in the Silver State alerts are staying ahead of the curve and breaking new ground. Through a partnership between Washoe County Emergency Management, UNR and the State of Nevada, the first simultaneous dual-language emergency alert test was successfully sent over the airwaves last week. This marks the first time that both English and Spanish alerts were sent, but with English language TV and radio stations only receiving the English communication, and Spanish radio and TV only receiving the Spanish communication.

“This test truly is a long-awaited victory in the emergency preparedness and public safety world,” says Aaron Kenneston, Washoe County Emergency Manager. “While this was just a test, the fact that it worked is very promising. We are looking at a future where our citizens can receive a critical emergency communication in the language they get their news, without hearing an alternate language played as well.”

Why this is an important “first”. This is the first time this technology has been used to provide broadcasters an EAS Required Monthly Test in both English and Spanish simultaneously, with Nevada serving as the beta test for this new capability. The success of our test means this multilingual service could be offered to other state and local government agencies, which also have an interest in providing public warnings to a non-English speaking audience.

“The Northern Nevada International Center at the University of Nevada, Reno is honored to have participated with the Washoe County Regional Emergency Operations Center in the first successful test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in Spanish in the State of Nevada,” says Manuel Mederos, Language Access Specialist at the University of Nevada, Reno. “These types of collaborations are critical for our Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons to receive warnings and information about impending threats and many other emergencies as our state increases its international footprint.”

The future of testing and alerts. After this first successful test was completed last week, another test is scheduled to take place sometime in the next couple of weeks toward the end of January.

“With another successful test in dual languages, we will move toward a plan to fully implement Spanish language alerts into our regular alert system. While this may take some time, Washoe County, along with our invaluable regional partners, together are committed to making this a reality,” says Kenneston.           

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