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|CodeRED emergency system to launch locally|
Eight Concordia Parish entities have joined forces to launch CodeRED this week -- an emergency notification system that will have the capability of alerting parish residents to situations involving dangerous weather or other critical circumstances such as a chemical spill or a hostage situation within a particular neighborhood.
The eight participants have contracted with Emergency Communications Network, Inc., of Ormand Beach, FL, for the high-speed telephone emergency notification services. Cost of the service is $18,300 per year, or $2,287 per participating agency.
The CodeRed system can deliver pre-recorded weather warning messages to either targeted areas or the entire parish at a rate of up to 60,000 calls per hour. The weather warning notifications are delivered for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash flooding.
However, it's important to note that the weather warnings will only go out to those "opting in" to the new system. Those who desire a weather-related message must sign up for the free service.
Warnings of other types of critical situations will automatically be called to the numbers currently listed through the parishwide 911 system.
Area residents may begin receiving test calls for the new system later this week.
Capt. Frankie Carroll, who is coordinating the new system's implementation, emphasized that any such warning system is only as good as the telephone database supporting it.
"If your phone number is not in the 911 database, you will not be called," he noted. "Any resident who is not in the 911 database may go to the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office website or the City of Vidalia's website to sign up for the system."
The CPSO website is http://www.concordiasheriff.org. The Vidalia website is http://www.seevidalia.com.
Individuals who do not have access to a computer may contact Carroll at the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office to be signed up, or contact 911 Director David Cobb at 336-5671. The Sheriff's Office numbers are 336-5231, 757-3162 or 386-2200.
"We want to make this as easy as possible for everyone in the parish to sign up for this essential warning system," stressed Sheriff Randy Maxwell. "I'm impressed with the speed, accuracy and dependability of this system. But, residents cannot just assume they are in the database."
Maxwell noted that it's becoming more and more common for homes to have only cell phones for the residents, but no landline, as a cost-cutting measure. In that case, those residents need to register their home addresses with their cell phone numbers. The registration form has a spot for each -- land lines and cell phones -- so residents may sign up for both types of phone notification, if they wish.
"Should a critical incident arise in their neighborhood, we'll have that address to target -- along with their neighbors' -- and their cell phones and land lines to contact and make sure they are aware of the situation, whatever it might be."
Participating agency representatives attending a Monday training session used the scenario of a missing child from a particular neighborhood and mapped a target area to call. They noted too that this system would be invaluable in an evacuation situation such as the one last Thanksgiving when a motorist reportedly struck a 500-gallon residential propane tank in the pre-dawn hours, causing the evacuation of approximately 150 people within a one-mile radius of the leaking tank near Vidalia.
The new system is a geographical-based notification system, which means that street addresses are needed to select which phone numbers will receive emergency notification calls in any given situation. People who recently moved, but kept the same listed or unlisted phone number also need to register and change their address in the database.
Parish participants in the new emergency notification system include the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office, Concordia Parish Police Jury, municipalities of Vidalia, Ferriday, Ridgecrest and Clayton, Concordia Fire Protection District No. 2, and the 911 Concordia Communications District. Each of these entities will have the capability to launch the emergency system at any given time.
Anyone having questions about the new emergency telephone notification system may contact Carroll or Cobb at the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office.
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