WINDHAM — Cumberland County wants to give you a call.
On Friday, the county’s Regional Communications Center will conduct a test call on its new CodeRED emergency alert system. The system is used to quickly send the public urgent information – such as warnings of severe weather, natural disasters, gas leaks or even escaped criminals.
Information is sent via automated telephone calls, text messages and emails. Starting at 10 a.m. Friday, the CodeRED system will send about 200,000 messages in an hour.
That’s double the capacity of the county’s previous, 10-year-old emergency notification system, according to Bill Holmes, director of the communications center.
He said the new system can more accurately pinpoint areas to send alerts, and is also better at establishing the necessary data connections.
The improvements come at a price: about $45,000 for two years of CodeRED service, $10,000 more than the county previously paid for the prior Citywatch system, he said.
Notifying such large numbers of people in an emergency also takes cooperation.
While the county can send notifications to publicly available land-line numbers, residents who want to receive alerts on cell phones or by email must provide the county with their contact information.
“There’s a huge benefit available, if you opt in for it,” Holmes said on Tuesday. “The success of this program depends on people opting in.”
There’s no cost to enroll in the alert system, and residents can sign up by visiting the county website, cumberlandcounty.org, and clicking on the red “CodeRED” icon.
On Friday, alert recipients will get a test notification from CodeRED’s non-emergency phone number, 855-969-4636. In an actual emergency, the number used would be 866-419-5000.
In an emergency, recipients might also see the name or phone number of their local police or fire department. That’s because most of the county’s 28 towns and cities rely on the countywide alert system.
All of the municipalities are free to send local emergency information through CodeRED, Holmes explained. A few, such as Scarborough, have also contracted on their own with Emergency Communications Network, the system’s Florida-based vendor.