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The St. Croix County Emergency Support Services Department, recently implemented the CodeRED mass notification system as part of its total 9-1-1 and emergency communications upgrade. The CodeRED alert system, which went live August 1st will allow the County to quickly deliver alerts of major emergencies to targeted areas or the entire county via landline telephones, cell phones, wireless devices, and by voice, text, or email.
The Emergency Communications center will be able to make over 2,000 notifications simultaneously. “Compared to our previous system, this is like night and day,” explained Stephen T’Kach, the county’s Emergency Support Services director, “the ability to map an area and send an alert message to over two-thousand recipients at one time will greatly enhance our emergency notification. In the past, that many notifications could take hours, as we saw with the incident involving the three escapees from the New Richmond Correctional Center in May.”
T’Kach cautioned that such systems are only as good as the information supporting them. “If your phone number is not in the database, you will not be called.” St. Croix County residents with landlines will be in the database, however, wireless phones and devices are generally not in the database and they will not be called unless they are registered. “CodeRED is intended to provide geographically based delivery, which means street addresses are required to ensure emergency notification calls are received by the proper individuals in a given situation,” T’Kach stated. “Wireless devices by their very nature are mobile and sometimes have billing addresses which may not be the same as where they are actually located, so it is extremely important that we have an associated street address to provide relevant messages. Recent studies indicate that over 40% of homes do not have landline or wired phones, but rather rely on cellular or voice over internet protocol phone service,” T’Kach added. “If people are using a cellular or VoIP phone as their primary number or have changed their landline phone number or address within the past year, they should access the county’s website and add their information. Any residents who registered on the old system will need to add their information to the CodeRED system.”
“No one should automatically assume his or her number is included,” T’Kach said, urging all individuals and businesses with wireless devices or recent changes in their landline phone service to log onto the Emergency Support Services website, www.sccwi.us/sccess, and follow the link to the “CodeRED Enrollment” page. The county urges those without Internet access to ask friends or family to help them. Required information includes first and last name, street address (physical address, no P.O. boxes), city, state, zip code, and primary phone number, additional phones numbers can be entered, as well as email addresses. One of the reasons the CodeRED system was selected is it gives individuals and businesses the ability to voluntarily add their own phone numbers directly into the system’s database, this is an extremely important feature.
T’Kach stated, “CodeRED gives those who want to be included an easy and secure method for inputting information. The data collected will only be used for emergency notification purposes.” The type of emergency notification alerts will generally be related to information the recipient would not normally receive through other channels. “Emergency evacuation, hazardous material spills, rapidly rising water, missing children, major criminal or fire activity affecting safety or travel, among others,” T’Kach clarified, “but not adverse weather because those alerts are numerous and readily available through other sources.”
But you must register to receive alerts on your wireless devices; don’t worry, it is free and simple. There is also an app called “CodeRED Mobile Alert” that you can download onto your smartphone for free from iTunes or Google Play. The CodeRED system is geographically based, alerting only individuals and residents in particular areas where emergency conditions exist, so you should not normally receive alerts that do not pertain to your registered address area. For more information, or to register, follow the link to the County’s webpage. Questions should be directed to the Emergency Support Services at 715-386-4751.