||Teaming Up To Save Lives
Wake County Emergency Management officials will soon begin using radar information from WRAL-TV’s Doppler 5000 to direct their efforts and potentially save lives. Several weeks ago, WRAL WeatherCenter staff met with emergency management officials to work out details of the new “Radarnet” partnership. The arrangement gives Wake County emergency workers “real time” access to the weather information that Doppler 5000 generates.
Doppler 5000 collects a continuous stream of radar data that WeatherCenter meteorologists then relay to WRAL viewers via television, radio and the Internet. The new Radarnet connection would allow Wake County to tap into that information source. According to WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel, “The information from our radar is transmitted along with our TV signal, so with the proper receiver and hardware, the data can be received and displayed.”
Baron Services, Inc., the company from which WRAL bought the radar equipment, came up with the Radarnet idea. They have already implemented similar programs in other areas of the country. WRAL-TV will now work to encourage other county emergency management departments to join Wake County in the partnership.
Wake County Emergency Management officials hope to have the new system operational within the next four to six weeks, depending on the availability of equipment and training of personnel to operate the system. Brian McFeaters of Wake County EM said that, “The benefits to the citizens of Wake County will be multiple–with approaching severe storm systems, Emergency Management will better be able to coordinate county response resources. That is, you don’t send all your EMS units to one end of the county if there are additional storms approaching from another direction.”
McFeaters added that EM personnel don’t intend to become a warning service; “the National Weather Service and WRAL-TV do a fine job of that already.” They will be using the information for “response planning.” Wake County EM establishes command posts during severe weather events consisting of fire fighters, police, EMS, and other emergency services. “Field Coordinators” relay information to these teams, and Radarnet will give them more current and detailed information with which to work and plan.
McFeaters continued, “I am very excited about the possibilities . . . utilizing a technology and expanding the partnership with WRAL. For the Emergency Management Community, this is a very large step forward.”
Doppler 5000, which is 25 times more powerful than any other local radar, first scanned the WRAL-TV viewing area on May 5, 1997. The radar tower is located near TV5’s main transmitter in Auburn, North Carolina.