Isanti County launches new emergency notification system

An emergency notification system will soon be in place in Isanti County that can automatically notify residents of an emergency in their area. But now residents need to do their part and get registered.

Isanti County Emergency Management and the Isanti County Sheriff’s Office has contracted with Emergency Communications Network to license its CodeRED high speed notification solution. The CodeRED systems provides city and county officials the ability to quickly deliver messages to targeted areas or the entire county.

Isanti County Emergency Management Director Mari Bostrom said listed home phone numbers are already entered into the system, but still urges all individuals and businesses to log onto the Isanti County website (www.co.isanti.mn.us) or the sheriff’s office website (www.isantisheriff.com) and follow the link to the CodeRED community notification enrollment page.

“If your phone number is not in the database, you will not be called,” Bostrom said.  “No one should automatically assume his or her phone number is included.”

Bostrom said the CodeRED system will be used for emergency purposes only such as a major disaster, water main break, train derailment or missing children or elderly. She reiterated CodeRED will not be used for weather-related information or weather alerts.

Bostrom explained one of the reasons the CodeRED system was selected is it gives individuals and businesses the ability to add their own phone numbers directly in the system’s database.

Required information for the registration will include first and last name, street

address (physical address, no P.O. boxes), city, state, zip code, and primary phone number. Additional phone numbers can be entered as well.

All businesses should register, as well as all individuals, who have unlisted phone numbers, who have changed their phone number or address within the past year, and those who use a cellular phone or VoIP phone as their primary number.

“CodeRED allows geographically based delivery, which means street addresses are required to ensure emergency notification calls are received by the proper individuals in a given situation,” Bostrom said. “The system works well for cell phones too, but we need to have an associated street address to provide relevant messages.”

County officials feel CodeRED will enhance public safety.

“CodeRED will be used for any major event in Isanti County that affects public safety,” said Chief Deputy Bill Guenther of the Isanti County Sherrif’s Office. “It’s a great tool for public safety and public awareness.”

Isanti County Sergeant Chris Caulk explained the CodeRED notification system could really have been useful on Oct. 31, 2010.

“I was working my shift when I got a call about a stabbing at the Q Mandarin Restaurant,” Sgt. Caulk explained. “As the manhunt went on we didn’t know if the person was armed or what area he was in. And it was Halloween and we knew there would be hundreds of children out walking around in the evening. If CodeRED had been in place at that time, we could have gotten a notice quickly out to the public.”

Sgt. Caulk encouraged residents to register as soon as possible by going to the county website or sheriff’s website. He said the CodeRED system will be operational in a few weeks, as employees are still going through the training process.

Bostrom explained once a resident has registered, they can customize their preferences on how they want to receive the emergency notification whether via home phone, cell phone or text message.

Bostrom noted the information will not be given to anyone.

“CodeRED gives those who want to be included an easy and secure method for inputting information,” Bostrom said. “The data collected will be used for emergency notification purposes only.”

Residents without Internet access may call Isanti County Emergency Management at 763-689-8306, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and register by supplying their information over the phone.

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