Fall River County will soon implement the CodeRED Emergency Notification and Alerting System, which will be available to everyone in the county. The notifications will be communicated through landlines, cell phones, email, social media and other methods. For further information log on to ONSOLVE.com. (Cathy Nelson/Fall River County Herald)
By Cathy Nelson
HOT SPRINGS - Fall River County residents will soon be connected to a system called CodeRED, which is an emergency alert system that sends messages through residents’ phones, email, social media and more. Emergency messages about fires and evacuation, severe weather, street and road closures, utility outages, hazmat emergencies, school closings and numerous other emergencies will reach residents faster than ever before.
CodeRED weather warnings deliver geo-targeted, automated alerts immediately after a bulletin is issued by the National Weather Service. The notifications are delivered via voice calls, text messages, emails, dedicated mobile applications, and more. These messages provide recipients the time and information needed to effectively protect lives and property.
County Emergency Manager Frank Maynard, GIS Officer Stacey Martin and Maintenance Manager Lyle Jensen have been working together to gather information about the CodeRED system and its advantages for this county.
“I can see a lot of uses for this,” Martin said. “It is used across the nation by many cities and counties. CodeRED can send out messages to a preset list of people, to the whole county or to those in a particular area of the county by drawing an area on the map used by CodeRED.”
“CodeRED gathers information from various entities for the database,” Martin said. “CodeRED staff update the information one to four times a year. So on our end, we are not gathering or maintaining a database, and that was my concern.” The county may send out reminders occasionally about updating information.
Martin said they expect that about 85 percent of the county will be on the initial database. The county will be promoting CodeRED through newspaper releases and giving people the opportunity to sign up and ask questions about the system.
“If people opt to not be on the system, they should notify the county, and they will be removed so they won’t receive notifications,” Maynard said. “It’s pretty straight forward.”
Martin said people will be contacted in person in case of an evacuation, but an advantage of CodeRED is that the people will receive the message much faster and have more time to gather items to take with them when they evacuate. The system will be monitored 24 hours a day.
Another characteristic of the system is that if people who are traveling through our area are signed up with CodeRED in their hometown, they will also receive the local warnings. For example, if they are camping in an area here where a fire has started, they will receive the message about the fire because they are signed up with CodeRED in their own town.
Commissioner Deb Russell said one advantage for rural areas is it will provide emergency messages where there is no fire whistle. She made a motion to purchase the medium cost system for $2,800 a year. The system includes unlimited emergency messages with 6,300 general minutes for calling. The emergency calling includes messages that save anything for life and property.
The public should watch for news releases from the county about signing up for CodeRED. Maynard said he expects the system to be running within a month. More information is also available at onsolve.com.