Broadcasters play key role in emergency readiness

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - How many times have you heard, "We interrupt this program to bring you important information" while watching television or listening to the radio?  When disaster strikes, authorities turn to broadcasters to make sure that the public receives emergency information.

"They're the ones that help get the word out to the public. If the federal, state, local governments have information they need to get out to the public, who delivers that information? The broadcast industry," explained Lisa Fowlkes who is the Deputy Chief of the Federal Communication Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security.

During a joint convention between the Mississippi and Louisiana Broadcasters Associations, emergency management officials and broadcast leaders came together to discuss the best practices of delivering critical information during emergency situations.

"I think it's crucial to have good communication on all the parties involved in a rather complicated system like this. You're talking about a lot of broadcasters who are participating in the emergency alert system on a voluntary basis," said State Emergency Alert System Chair Randy Bell.

Mississippi and Louisiana broadcasters are no stranger to natural and manmade disasters. The broadcasters at the convention drew on past experiences to address problems that often come up when relaying emergency information.

"Sometimes when it doesn't get used on a regular basis, we fall into some complacency, and this is what this panel is trying to address," said Bell.

With meetings and panels bringing together the experts, both authorities and broadcasters can be even more prepared to get needed info to the public.

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