Code Red fills communication gap for exclusive cell phone users
July 22, 2010
An emergency communication system catering to cell phones, similar to how Reverse 911 functions for land lines, has been proven to work in actual Grand County emergencies, according to Grand County Office of Emergency Management personnel.
Called “Code Red,” the service can text and/or email emergency information via cell phone. It was first applied during the Kremmling boil-water order in September of 2009.
Registered community residents were informed of where they could pick up potable water during the crisis and when the water was safe to drink.
The next time the system was used was on June 6, 2010, when emergency officials in the county released information about high water flows and voluntary evacuations in the Fraser Valley area. Using addresses and zip codes linked to cell phone numbers, the system allowed emergency personnel to isolate messages to only those residents and visitors who could be impacted, according to Office of Emergency Management spokesperson Nowelle Curran. The system worked in conjunction with the Reverse 911 land-line system, and for some residents, that meant they received more than one alert.
“This service has been especially beneficial to community members and second-home owners who may not have a land-line phone in their home,” Curran said.
The notification system can also work for people who are visiting Grand County as well as for people who are out of town yet want to be notified about emergencies that may affect their Grand County homes.
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The Code Red system, implemented in Grand County about three years ago by way of a state grant (Emergency Management now budgets for Code Red Internet access annually), is activated only when actions should be taken by community members for public safety, according to Curran.
Designed for times of emergency such as evacuation, fire, hazardous spills, shelters and drinking water contamination, Code Red will call a registered cell phone number and play back a recorded message from the Grand County Office of Emergency Management.
Cell phone users must be registered with the system in order to be included.
Emergency officials guess that about 2,000 Grand County residents and visitors are registered already.
To register, individuals need only provide their cell phone numbers, addresses and email online by following the Code Red link found on http://www.gcemergency.com. Registration is free.
The registration process requires computer users to enable cookies, Curran said. If registration on computer is not available or not preferred, people can call the Grand County Office of Emergency at 970-887-2732 and individuals will register them over the phone. People can also register by visiting the Grand County EMS office in Granby, or stopping by an EMS booth set up at various public events, such as at the annual 9Health Fair.
Another communication resource is available to Grand County residents who would require special attention in an emergency evacuation.
Through the 211 call center facilitated by the United Way, community members may register to be put on an active list so that Grand County emergency responders can and identify and be prepared to contact people who may not have a vehicle, are on oxygen or a ventilator, or may be immobilized temporarily or permanently. For more information dial 2-1-1 or 1-866-485-0211.