Get registered and remember to add your physical address
[ By Katherine Nettles ]
In the event of an emergency such as a roadside avalanche, flash flood, wildfire or other critical situation, Gunnison County and surrounding regions have a new way to get in touch with residents to alert them. The Gunnison/Hinsdale Combined Emergency Telephone Service Authority has launched a new emergency notification system this month, called Gunnison Regional Alerts. The Gunnison County emergency department is hoping to get widespread adoption of the new system, which is similar to reverse 911, but residents and visitors will need to register with their physical local address for it to work.
The new emergency notification system is powered by Genasys Emergency Management (GEM), a multi-channel alerting system. It will be used to communicate critical public safety topics including evacuations, wildfire, flooding and other emergency notifications. It went live on December 16 and will officially replace the former system, CodeRed, on January 8, 2023. All residents, visitors and family members living in Gunnison County or the Gunnison dispatch area are encouraged to sign up for alerts at gunnison.genasys.com/portal/register.
GEM alerts are broadcast on multiple channels, including SMS, email, landline, mobile phones and more. Additionally, GEM can integrate with social media applications to post messages directly to a customer’s Twitter or Facebook page. GEM is also used for IPAWS alerts and can support mobile and desktop panic apps.
Gunnison County emergency management director Scott Morrill said there were many reasons for transitioning from CodeRed to the new system with GEM.
“Having these systems is definitely best practice and having them is the best way to communicate with folks during an emergency. Our CodeRed contract expires in January, so a group of us from West Region Alliance got together and decided it would be due diligence to look at other systems available. And after a lot of research we landed on this one,” said Morrill.
The West Region Alliance includes Gunnison, Hinsdale, San Miguel, Montrose, Delta and Ouray counties. “When we started using these emergency notification systems we got better pricing and benefits by going in as a region, so we are continuing that. And being connected as a region also gives us the ability to send messages for each other,” says Morrill. He says that happened recently when Gunnison County needed to issue notifications on behalf of Ouray County.
“It’s a little more complex than to register with CodeRed, but that’s because they give more options,” says Morrill, such as weather-related alerts. “I think it’s more options and a better product.”
According to emergency department staff, people in the area should sign up even if they have already registered for CodeRed. Individuals can choose the types of alerts they receive and how to receive them, including landline phone, cell phone, text/SMS message and email. During the registration process, people can also customize the type of and order in which they receive alerts.
Morrill emphasizes that to receive targeted messages by a mapped location, people must add their home address when registering. Adding multiple addresses, such as a home address and work address, will better ensure receiving all applicable critical emergency alerts. The information entered into the system is for the purposes of communicating emergency and official information only – neither GEM, Gunnison County or Gunnison Dispatch will share or sell anyone’s information.
“This system does not require people to add their location or their address. So we’re working to try and make that a mandatory field. In the meantime, the bottom line is if people don’t fill out that field, they are not going to get our notifications,” said Morrill.
Deputy emergency manager Lisa Clay has been heavily involved in the rollout and said she recommended that people fill out each individual field in the left hand drop down bar.
“We’re trying to get as many people as possible to register. And we are very likely going to do a test message in January,” she said. “We are encouraging those who live in the areas that border two counties like Somerset, Hinsdale or Sawatch to sign up for both counties,” she said, because despite the alliance, each county has its own individual registration portal. For visitors, if there is a major event expected or already happening, Clay said there will be a temporary code issued that can be circulated through the usual outreach efforts like the newspaper, radio and social media.
“One of the good things about the system is everything can come from locally branded alerts,” summarized Clay. “So our phone number is a local 970 number. And we’re hoping that becomes a recognized and trusted source within the community.”