By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Starting today, Wood County has a countywide “Code Red” alert system. But it will take months before the system is completely up and running.
The county commissioners voted Thursday to fund a portion of the phone alert system.
At the request of Wood County Emergency Management Agency Director Brad Gilbert, the commissioners agreed to pay $23,000 for the system. The total cost for the system is $46,000 – so the other half will be picked up by entities already paying for the system individually that are now joining the countywide alert system.
The alerts will notify local residents of such events as bad weather headed this way or a hazardous material incident in their area, Gilbert said.
Wood County is one of just a few Ohio counties that don’t already have a countywide notification system, Gilbert said last November when the idea was first introduced to the county commissioners..
All landlines in the county will automatically be hooked up for the Code Red alerts. Cell phone users will have to register for the notifications. People will also be able to choose different options of which alerts they wish to receive.
That means it will take several months before the new areas not already served by Code Red will get notifications. A public information push will be made to spread the word about the program.
“It’s going to be a slow roll out,” Gilbert said.
The seven governmental entities that are already using Code Red are Northwestern Water and Sewer District, Perrysburg City, Perrysburg Township, Rossford, Lake Township, Walbridge and Pemberville.
Those entities already had separate contracts with Onsolve Communication, the company providing Code Red alerts. So by teaming up with the county, it will not only augment the service but also reduce their costs, Gilbert said.
The program will also be opened up to any other municipality or township that wants to join to post their own alerts.
Those communities that become “sub-users” of the Code Red system can activate alerts on their own for residents in their area. The system can be used for non-emergency, yet helpful information such as notification of leaf collections or road closures.
The system also has the benefit of allowing “geocoding,” so the alerts can be sent out to very specific areas. In the case of weather or hazardous material incidents, the alerts can go out to targeted areas to warn them and also to disperse recovery information after an incident, Gilbert said.
If evacuations are needed, the Code Red system would be of great help, he said.
“It really speeds up the process,” he said.