As a local government providing essential services, including police and fire emergency response, the city plays a primary role in any emergency -- a pandemic, natural disaster, local incident or homeland security threat. The blueprint Northfield uses to respond to all types of emergencies is the City's Emergency Operations Plan.
Emergency plans provide a template for integrating and coordinating resources during and after an emergency. The process of creating and constantly updating an emergency plan leaves government better able to respond in an emergency because it requires that officials identify vulnerabilities, inventory resources, outline responsibilities and coordinate communication.
Local government will be on the front line in any emergency as it provides police and fire emergency response, water and sewer service and high priority public information. That is why Northfield keeps its plan current and trains regularly.
Just as government is preparing, it's important that families also develop preparedness plans. Take some time to think about what supplies your family would need in an emergency and how you would contact each other. Businesses should also have up-to-date emergency plans. For help getting started, please check out the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's web site.
FEMA Family Planning Guide For Emergencies
FEMA has developed a family planning guide that will help you and your family prepare for emergency events on a larger scale. Download this guide to see what steps you can take ahead of time to help protect your family.
What to do if the sirens sound
If you are outdoors, seek shelter immediately. If you are in a suitable shelter, turn on your television, radio or NOAA weather radio to get the latest information and instructions. Locally you can tune to KYMN 1080 AM. In the evening, when KYMN is off the air, you can go to kymnradio.net where they stream live weather updates.
Awareness of the sirens and what they mean is a critical piece to gaining knowledge of the emergency incident. First of all, sirens are only meant to be heard outdoors where people may not have access to media outlets such as TV, radio and NOAA weather radios.
If people are indoors, they need to rely on those media sources to get information about the current situation be it weather or some other emergency. The sirens indicate that something is happening that the public needs to be aware of. It is the public’s responsibility to find out what action they need to take. We should not assume that sirens only sound for weather events and on each Wednesday of the month.
How do I know when the event is over?
In a weather event, the National Weather Service (NWS) issues watches and warnings with an expiration time. The NWS can choose to cancel, extend or let the watch/warning expire. In the event the watch/warning is extended, a new expiration time will be included in the information.
In a non-weather event, information about the event and instructions would be available through local media outlets.
There is no “All Clear” siren or signal. In a weather event when a watch/warning expires, you must determine based on observations and information if it is safe to leave your place of shelter.
How is it determined if the sirens are activated?
The National Weather Service, trained Skywarn Spotters or any local public safety official determines if there is a weather threat, and if sirens should be activated. Sirens will be activated in the case of a Tornado Warning – either radar indicated or reports from trained spotters. If high winds are reported – typically exceeding the severe thunderstorm warning threshold of 58 MPH or greater the sirens may be activated.
In the case of non-weather emergencies local public safety officials determine the need to activate the outdoor warning system.
Monthly siren testing
Sirens within the City of Northfield are tested on a weekly basis year round to maintain readiness.
On the first Wednesday of each month, at approximately 1:00 p.m., sirens will activate and reach full volume. Two siren tones are tested steady and wail. The monthly test lasts approximately 5-8 minutes. This first Wednesday of the month test is initialized by the Pearl Street 911 Dispatch Center.
On the second, third, fourth and fifth Wednesday of each month at 1:00 p.m., a “growl test” is performed. During a "growl test," the siren is sounded at a very low volume to ensure it and all the associated hardware and monitoring equipment is in working order. People in close proximity to the siren will probably hear the growl test and see the siren rotate. The sirens will not reach full volume during a “growl test.” Total test time is approximately 15-30 seconds with the siren sounding for approximately 2 seconds. These tests are initialized locally, not from Pearl Street 911 Dispatch.
Siren testing may be postponed or canceled if severe weather conditions are currently present or imminent in the area.
The City of Northfield has a plan for notifying residents of critical situations affecting the community, such as severe weather conditions, bio-terrorism attacks, evacuation orders, boil-water notices and missing child reports.
Alerts will be broadcast via an outdoor siren warning system, local media outlets and as an alert on the City’s web site.
Who sounds the sirens?
Pearl Street 911 Dispatch Center (dispatches public safety for Rice and Steele County including Northfield) has the primary responsibility to sound all sirens in the county. Pearl Street has overall operations policies and guidelines which provide direction and guidance for warning system activation. Northfield Emergency Operations can also activate the local outdoor warning system if needed.