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Somerset County is launching a CodeRED

February 17, 2019

Somerset County officials are getting ready to launch its countywide notification service.

County officials said they will be testing the CodeRED notification system at 3 p.m. March 19, getting it ready for public use. In December county commissioners signed a contract with OnSolve for the system, which will cost $6,750 a year.

Joel Landis, the Somerset County Emergency Management Agency Director, said the system sends notifications to the public about emergencies like weather warnings and evacuations.

“It’s another tool in the public safety agencies toolbox we can use in the event of an emergency,” he said.

The web-based notification system will allow residents to be notified by telephone, email or social media with time-sensitive information. County 911 coordinator Dave Fox said this gives dispatchers a faster means of getting information to the public.

“It gives (residents) a peace of mind of knowing what’s going on in a large level of something in the county,” he said.

Residents can already sign-up now to receive alerts from the system. Officials said the system is compatible with most cellphones and email systems.

Fox said emergency crews in the field would contact the 911 center with updates so a coherent message could be dispatched, adding that officials would want to make sure residents get all of the information in one message.

“We want to make it pretty precise because we don’t want 55 people calling in saying ‘I got this message, but it doesn’t tell me where to evacuate to,’” he said.

The system was purchased as part of a state contract, with 19 of the 67 counties and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency using it to send out alerts. The system is free to residents, who need to sign up to get the notifications.

“You can sign up multiple different ways, so your landline, your cellphone or your email,” Landis said.

Landis said officials can scale down the message to specific areas with this new system. As an example if a hazmat spill happened in a nearby town, officials could select a section around 2,000 feet that needs to be evacuated to receive in the message.

“We’re able to scale the message specifically for those who need the notification,” he said.

Landis added that counties like Fayette and Westmoreland also use this system, and if residents leave the area they can get alerts for any area using CodeRED.

“It’s another tool for the fire, police and EMS toolbox,” he said. “It’s just a means to get that message out.”

Officials are urging residents with private numbers to sign up to the service. To sign-up visit public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/BFF5C379ECF2.

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