Oregon's Emergency Alert System in place is out of date, according to officials

(KPTV Image)

Only a fraction of the counties in Oregon have the capability to launch their own analog emergency alerts, according to state's Emergency Communications Committee.

Chris Murray, Chair of the ECCC, said the Emergency Alert System in place to keep the public informed is aging, to the point where it's become a serious concern.

"I'll use Lane County as an example. The unit they're using to send out to the analog EAS legacy system is 20 years old. The radios were scoured out of old police cars," Murray said.

In the digital age, analog systems, which are known as "legacy" systems, are backups to more efficient alerts generated over the internet, but they're also important failsafes.

"We know that if events happen like earthquakes or large fires, the internet becomes unusable," Murray said.

The state of Washington recently bought each of its counties standard equipment to generate emergency alerts, and the Oregon Association of Broadcasters has been pushing the Oregon State Legislature to do the same.

Senator Brian Boquist, who is chairman of the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee supports the legislature providing funding for new EAS equipment.

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease and when people get concerned, things happen," Boquist said.

Oregon's statewide Emergency Alert System has failed two recent national tests, but Murray said the problems that led to the failures have been addressed.

Murray said it would take about one million dollars to get the state's system up to date.

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