On Thursday, Feb. 23, Pike County will for the first time be covered with a county-wide emergency notification system in case severe weather or other life-threatening events occur in the community. Click here to register.
Residents who have a valid phone number on file in the E911 data base will receive a test call announcing the system has been activated in Pike. An internet-based system, DeltAlert, will automatically call citizens at their homes and mobile phones when a tornado warning is issued for Pike. DeltAlert can also be used to contact citizens with other important notices such as a boil water alert.
“After major tornado-producing storms last April we looked at a county-wide emergency notification system. Our first thought was warning sirens but their cost was very high and required a lengthy geographical study, which added a significant amount to the overall cost,” said county fire chief Mike Grant. “We worked closely with Sheriff Jimmy Thomas, Pike County E911 and county manager Bill Sawyer to research alternatives. We found computer-based emergency notification systems or ‘reverse 911’ systems. Not only were they far more affordable, we felt citizens would be more likely to respond to such a system in an emergency. Instead of using set-place sirens the alerts are phoned to our citizens. They’re much more likely to hear a phone ringing, especially at night when they’re asleep.”
When residents receive a phone call, the caller ID will display 770-567-2018, which is the phone number for Pike County Emergency Services.
“This was important as we felt residents would be more likely to answer a local phone number,” said emergency management director Jimmy Totten. “Most of the other systems we looked at didn’t have this feature.”
The cost of DeltAlert was $14,700 for two years. Half of the cost was covered by grants from state and federal funding. A local charitable trust also donated $4,000. The final cost for this service was $3,350.
“We’re doing two important things at once. First, we need citizens to sign up for DeltAlert to ensure they get life-threatening alerts. Second, we’re time updating the county’s 911 database,” said Totten. “In getting the DeltAlert system prepared for use in Pike, it was found E911 had over 9,000 contacts listed but less than 50% of those contacts had valid phone numbers or other vital information for local residences and businesses.”
When someone calls E911 for an emergency, the dispatchers don’t have current information to give first responders.”
Missing information ranges from names of occupants, call back numbers, special needs at that address, up to date gate codes to physical descriptions of homes and businesses. Having this information cuts response times to emergencies.
To register information for DeltAlert and update information for E911, residents can go to the following websites of emergency services, the commissioners and schools. For information call Totten at 770-567-2018 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.