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Emergency Code Red system a go

Carbon County Sheriff James Cordova demonstrates the Code Red Notification system in which a recorded messages detailing an emergency can be relayed to as many as 30,000 people in under one minute.

By GREG EICHELBERGER
Sun Advocate reporter

The next time disaster strikes Price or its surrounding environs - God forbid - a new and more sophisticated emergency and/or evacuation communication system could mean the difference between life or death.

Entitled the "Code Red Emergency Notification" system, it's basically a reverse 911 calling concept. And, instead of a police officer, sheriff's deputy or emergency worker having to travel to an affected area and personally notifying citizens of trouble one house at a time, Code Red has the ability to make approximately 30,000 calls in one minute.

There are only about 10,000-plus residents in Price proper.

Active for about a month, and with grant funds from the Homeland Security Department, the system should be running for the next three years.

"If we had a major emergency, there would be no way to notify everyone," said Carbon County Emergency Management Director Jason Llewelyn. "This system allows our department - or police, fire and other emergency personnel - to notify most of the affected population."

The Code Red plan can also select a certain geografical area, notifying everyone within a specific sector in case of a situation affecting only that particular venue.

"Fire, flood, accident, S.W.A.T., HazMat, weather, whatever the situation, whatever the emergency," added Llewelyn, who helped secure the grant money for the project.

"It frees up our 911 operators in the dispatch center to concentrate on other emergencies. It also allows the sheriff to see graphically what areas are responding and those which are not."

Llewelyn added that the system not only contacts land lines, but cell phones, as well. CodeRed can also send text messages and/or e-mails.

In addition, letters were sent to every citizen in Carbon and Emery counties informing them of this new system and telling people how to enter only their first names, addesses and phone numbers (those who wish to include more information, however, can do so).

Those who fail to register (by visiting www.carbon.utah.gov/EMS or www.CodeRedweb.com or by calling 2-1-1), though, may not be called if an emergency occurs.

"Jason was able to secure the grant funds and that, coupled with the new technology - thanks to Emery Telcom - we were able to sieze the day, said Sheriff James Cordova. "This is a huge advantage to the people of this area, as well as to the law enforcement community."

Another good thing about the plan, according to Cordova, is the administrative arm. When an alert takes place, the sheriff himself is notified, thus allowing him valuable time to coordinate his own forces and make contngency plans.

For those concerned about privacy issues and if taxpayers would foot the bill, Llewelyn offered that no name will be turned over to any telemarketer or used for anything other than emergency notification. A law enforcement official cannot obtain such private information without a court order, anyway.

"The initial cost for the four counties involved is about $60,000 for a three-year contract," Llewelyn said. "After that, we will be funded for at least another year by Homeland Security money. After that, 911 funds may be used. There will be no cost to the taxpayer for this service."

And it will not be just the sheriff's department that can activitate the system. Fire, medical and even local government agencies will have access to the notification plan - but for emergencies only.

"This program is in the best interests of the residents of Carbon and the other counties," Cordova said. "It's a very good plan."




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