Residents across Merced County will know if any natural disaster, threat, hostage situation or imminent danger of fire occurs, thanks to a Web-based application that will be used in times of emergencies.
An agreement for CodeRED telephone emergency notification system with the Merced County Office of Emergency Services was approved this week by the Merced City Council.
Certain county and city officials have the authority to send notification messages to residents' phones. Priority communication calls can be made in times of severe weather conditions, natural disasters, terrorism threats, bomb threats, Amber alerts and more. The database can store multiple phone numbers and e-mail addresses per person, according to the council report.
CodeRED is funded by the State Homeland Security Grant, according to the report. Merced County and the cities of Merced, Los Banos, Livingston, Atwater, Gustine and Dos Palos will have access to the CodeRED system. For example, it can be used to make a blanket call to all city residents or people within a four-block radius notifying them of a gas main leaking, said Mike Conway, city spokesman.
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At the meeting, Councilwoman Mary-Michal Rawling said she was concerned that if there was some emergency, and the word gets out, people wouldn't necessarily know about it. Moreover, she said in her generation a lot of people didn't have home phones.
"It's a big concern for me," she said Monday night.
She said the system is set up so it automatically inputs all listed home numbers. But that could be a problem, if you don't have a home number or use an unlisted number, she said.
"I just hope that we can get the word so people can know about it and take precaution," she said.
The council approved the user agreement and also outreach with city publications to notify residents to sign up for the system.
Merced Fire Department Chief Mike McLaughlin said the database would include cell phone numbers and the alerts would be based on people's addresses, residences or billing addresses.
"What the county is paying CodeRED for is also helping maintain the integrity of the database," McLaughlin said. "Whatever we have to do, we're going to do with full passion and vigor."
He said for officials who use the system, they can dial in by telephone or log in from the Internet.
"There is no perfect system for that because obviously people may not be home or people move. The nice thing with this system (is it's) a countywide system, is part of a greater system," he said. "It's used nationwide."
The program would replace Reverse911, which McLaughlin said was never fully operational because of a wide array of issues.
Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or email@example.com.