Stutsman residents signing up for CodeREDStutsman County residents have already been taking advantage of the county’s first free emergency notification system since the system went live Aug. 16.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
Stutsman County residents have already been taking advantage of the county’s first free emergency notification system since the system went live Aug. 16.
In a county of about 22,000 residents, nearly 8,300 — or about 37 percent — have signed up for the CodeRED emergency notification system as of Sept. 10, according to Stutsman County Emergency Manager and 911 Coordinator Jerry Bergquist.
“We haven’t needed it lately, but with something like the floods of last summer, it probably would have been very useful,” Bergquist said. “But it’s very comforting knowing that we have a system like this in place that we can use.”
Through an agreement with southeastern North Dakota’s Richland County originally made back in June 2011, the two counties are now allowing anyone who registers for this free service the opportunity to receive notifications directly through their mobile devices, email accounts and/or business lines.
Notifications would include things such as evacuation notices, bioterrorism alerts, boil water notices and missing child reports.
CodeRED is the company through which the two counties have contracted for the service — which also has emergency notification centers in other areas of North Dakota such as Wahpeton and Valley City.
Since becoming available and being first tested county-wide on Aug. 16, Bergquist said it’s been difficult to gauge exactly how well the system has been working because there hasn’t been a need to send any emergency notifications.
“We just haven’t had anything to warrant sending emergency notifications,” he said. “But speaking with the Richland County, their 911 coordinator there just loves it and said it’s been working well.”
The system also allows for residents to receive only email notifications or text message notifications.
According to Sept. 10 data, 750 Stutsman County residents have signed up for the email service and 572 have signed up for the text messaging service.
In addition to emergency notifications, the service also allows registered users to receive weather warnings directly from the National Weather Service, including tornadoes, severe weather and flash floods.
This kind of system is something trending statewide, according to Cecily Fong, public information officer with the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.
“We’re seeing it more and more around the state. I’d say about 20 counties have the phone service notification system — most of whom have the text message component also,” she said. “Having that text message capability is really a great thing.”
With the total cellphone lines in North Dakota outnumbering the total landlines in the state as of three or four years ago, this kind of service is timely for the county, according to Bergquist.
“Cellphones are becoming more and more like people’s center of the universe, especially with smart phones. So I think, in general, the public will really benefit from this,” he said.
Any Stutsman County resident can register for the service by logging onto the county website at www.stutsmancounty.org and clicking on the “CodeRED Community Notification Enrollment” link.
Required information to register includes first and last name, street address, city, state, zip code and phone numbers people wish to register with the service.
Bergquist said the county does not have access to the information submitted, as it will be privately stored in a database through CodeRED, so privacy and personal information getting out would not be an issue.
Only users who are registered will receive notifications. Normal text messaging rates apply to users who decide to opt in for the text messaging service.
Any questions regarding the system can be directed to the Stutsman County Emergency Management office at 701-252-9093.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org