Cell phone users must register for Routt County emergency notification system

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Enroll in CodeRED

To add your cell phone number or to check to make sure your number to the emergency notification list for Routt Couny, visit the CodeRED website.

— When Oak Creek’s water system failed Sept. 26 and town officials needed to warn residents to boil their water, it was a chance for the county’s new CodeRED emergency notification system to take an inaugural run.

The notification system performed well, Routt County Com­­munications Director Tim Mc­­Men­­amin said, but only for those people who actually could be contacted — a limited number given the increasing number of people who forego landlines for cell phones.

CodeRED has all of the phone numbers registered with local phone carrier Qwest, including listed and unlisted lines. But people without landlines must register online for the free service.

Anyone can register by clicking a link on Routt County’s website and entering their name, phone number and, optionally, e-mail address. A test call confirms the phone number was entered into the system.

David DiGiacomo, vice president of CodeRED parent company Emergency Commun­ication Network, said there are 12,000 Routt County households entered in the database, and about 1,300 people have registered through the online system.

DiGiacomo said there is a total of 180 million households in the company’s database, and he said that information is not sold or shared with other companies.

The information is collected from municipalities and phone companies, but he said people can guarantee they are in the system by registering through the website.

“Although you may be in the database, the only way to guarantee you’re in the database to get called is to go in and sign up,” he said.

If someone wants to opt out of the system, DiGiacomo said they can do so by keypad prompts during their initial test call.

1st real use

McMenamin said dispatchers have used the system in test runs but never for an emergency notification. The system is designed to be used in the event of wildfires, hazardous materials spills, crime sprees, missing people or, like what happened in Oak Creek, public utility emergencies.

DiGiacomo said the system has been used in communities across the country for everything from a pack of coyotes in a neighborhood — the call advised people to take their dogs inside — to major weather events.

For smaller-scale events, or if the countywide radio system is down, dispatchers can use the system to notify police and SWAT teams, firefighters and other emergency responders.

McMenamin said the system, using servers in Florida, can make as many as 1,000 calls with 30-second messages per minute, and can tailor the exact locations included in the emergency call.

“If we have a HAZ-MAT spill, we can go to the location of the spill and draw a circle,” based on the emergency responders’ instructions he said. “It starts the phone calls from the center of the incident working out.”

The county pays about $12,000 per year for the system, Mc­­Menamin said, and the first 30,000 call-minutes are included. After that, the agency that requested the call will be billed. Because there were still minutes left in the initial allotment, Oak Creek was not billed for the water-boil call.

Oak Creek enrollment

Oak Creek Town Board member Bernie Gagne was one of the public officials who went door-to-door when a couple of valves in Oak Creek’s water system broke late last month. He said he went to senior centers, the high school and other public gathering places to spread the word.

“For the most part, people had heard about it word of mouth,” he said.

Gagne said he would like to allow residents to automatically enroll in the CodeRED system when they sign up for electricity service, or at least provide sign-up instructions with their first electrical bill.

Gagne said the people who got the call were impressed with the system, but there were still many people who didn’t know about the boil order.

“Other people just … I don’t know what. They were in limbo,” he said.

Comments

Scott Wedel 3 years, 11 months ago

The article failed to answer the question posed at the end. Do any of the various local utilities use customer provided contact information to add their customers to the reverse 911 system?

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