Emergency system to undergo test

Notifications are sent in variety of ways

Posted 2/13/15

The Elbert County Office of Emergency Management has scheduled an all-call test of its emergency notification system. The test will consist of an automated call at or shortly after 2 p.m. on March 5 to every Elbert County number registered with the …

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Emergency system to undergo test

Notifications are sent in variety of ways

Posted

The Elbert County Office of Emergency Management has scheduled an all-call test of its emergency notification system. The test will consist of an automated call at or shortly after 2 p.m. on March 5 to every Elbert County number registered with the Code Red service.

“The purpose of the all-call will be to validate phone numbers currently in the Code Red database and to validate that the system is working properly,” said Brandon Lenderink, director of Elbert County Emergency Management. “This process allows us to verify registered numbers and clean up phone numbers which were once registered but may have been disconnected.”

According to Lenderink, removing numbers no longer in service will improve the speed and efficiency of the system during an actual emergency.

“The recorded message will explain that it is a test of the Code Red Emergency notification system and that no action is required,” he said. “In a real emergency, the message will include specific details describing what residents should do.”

Lenderink asks recipients of any Code Red call to listen to the entire message before calling 911. During an emergency, dispatchers are especially busy and have less time to field nonemergency calls, and Code Red messages communicate critical information.

Code Red is a privately owned, dedicated network infrastructure owned and operated by Emergency Communication Network, which contracts with local municipalities to provide the notification service. Residents may sign up to receive alerts via their telephones, mobile phones, social media and email.

The system is capable of sending over a million messages in an hour to either specific groups or to geographic areas. It automatically calls numbers in affected areas whenever the National Weather Service issues any type of warning, such as a winter storm or tornado warning.

The Elbert County Sheriff's Office is encouraging residents who have not registered to sign up and those who have registered to re-register prior to the March 5 exercise to ensure their contact information is up to date.

“In the rural environment of Elbert County, the Code Red system is a way for the sheriff's office to spread the word quickly throughout the county,” Lenderink said. “We are also encouraging residents to sign up for the email notifications, which is another tool used by our office to send out informational messages.”

The informational emails can pertain to weather watches, provide preparedness tips, or warn of criminal activity. Most recently, an email alert was sent to residents in western Elbert County warning of a rash of burglaries occurring in the area.

While Lenderink sees the email feature as an effective tool, he is also cognizant that it is not something the department should use every day.

“It (the informational email) is a very good tool to get out critical information but not emergency notifications. We don't want to dilute the effectiveness of the system by sending too many.”

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