Westminster Chimes rang out over Tofino’s beaches this morning as the district tested its emergency notification system.
Tofino has tested it’s tsunami sirens on the first Friday of every month for the past two years and today was the first of its monthly One Call notification system testing, which provides a phone call, text message and email to locals who have signed up through the district’s website at www.tofino.ca.
The district added its One Call system to its monthly testing as part of its efforts to upgrade local emergency notification after a Tsunami Warning evacuated the community on Jan. 23.
“It’s important to exercise these systems to make sure that they’re working effectively and also to bring general awareness of emergency preparedness within our community,” Tofino’s emergency program coordinator Keith Orchiston told the Westerly News from the district’s Emergency Operations Centre above the Tofino Fire Hall Friday morning.
At 11 a.m. a booming voice belted out “This is a test of the emergency warning system,” from the district’s three sirens—located at Cox Bay, South-Chesterman and North-Chesterman—before the Westminster Chimes kicked in.
Aleah Rockwell was visiting Tofino from Cochrane, Alberta, and said she heard and appreciated the siren.
“I think it’s a really good thing. It makes me feel more safe to know that it’s going on and that we’re looked after,” she told the Westerly News at North Chesterman. “It’s a really good idea.”
Miranda Peterson of Calgary was happy to see efforts being made to warn beach goers.
“It’s good that they’re looking out for tourists and they’re not just looking after their own,” she said
“People might not have their phones when they’re on the beach, so it’s really nice that they’re really taking care of everybody and nobody’s left behind.”
Ucluelet local Danny Osborne was getting his wetsuit on to head out for a surf when he heard the siren.
“Given recent tsunami warnings, I think it’s really good that they have that implemented because, I think, it gives everyone peace of mind when they’re out surfing,” he said.
Vancouver’s Daryn Cassie said he was pulling into Chesterman’s parking lot when he heard the siren’s “big boomy voice” telling him the test was over.
“I think its a good thing to have at the beach,” he said. “It’s good to be prepared for these types of emergencies.”
The district’s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers said all three sirens sounded off during the test and that the One Call System sent out 905 phone calls, 620 emails and 293 text messages.
“We’re happy with the first roll out of the double testing,” he said.
He added that locals should sign up for the One Call system rather than depend on the sirens to alert them of an emergency.
“The sirens were developed and installed to notify people outside, specifically beach users,” he said. “If you’re inside your house, or if it’s windy, you may not get that notification so we encourage everybody to sign up for that One Call system.”