The next time a storm threatens the summertime fun at Saratoga Race Course, the fans will have a new way of finding out it’s time to take cover.
“We’re going to be able to notify people in an instant of that situation,” said Carl Zeilman, director of the Saratoga County Office of Emergency Services.
The county is preparing to launch a new emergency alert system, called CodeRed and commonly referred to as Reverse 911, that will send out emergency notification messages during natural disasters, community emergencies, industrial accidents, wildfires, floods, severe weather, chemical spills, or any other time deemed neccesary by fire, police or EMS personel.
In advance of the planned launch date on Thursday, the county Office of Emergency Services is urging residents to register their cellphone or Voice Communications over the Internet (VoiP) numbers online. Residents with a landline are already signed up automatically, but people wishing to be notified on their cellphones need to register, Zeilman said. He emphasized the importance of registering for individuals and businesses that use cellphones as their primary phone.
The emergency notification system can target entire communities or pinpoint a single address.
“It’s important that we have the ability to contact residents and business owners alike in times of emergency,” Zeilman said. “This is the one reason why we wanted to get this system up and operational — so that we have that ability.”
On Monday, 911 respresentatives from most of the county’s 19 towns, nine villages and two cities met at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Ballston Spa to be trained in operating the system and promoting its use among the county’s estimated 226,249 residents. The CodeRed system costs about $30,000 annually, which is being covered by state funding and through a 5-year contract.
“In times of emergency, we need to be able to notify residents and businesses about what actions they need to take,” Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said. “The CodeRed system allows us to quickly notify people about urgent situations and deliver that message via text, voicemail or email.”
To register, residents and businesses should visit www.saratogacountyny.gov and follow the link to the “CodeRED Community Notification Enrollment” page. There they will be required to provide their first and last name, street address, city, state, zip code, and primary phone number, with the option to enter additional phone numbers and email addresses.
All businesses in the county are advised to register, as well as anyone with unlisted phone numbers, residents 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.
Contact information will remain confidential and will not be released or sold for any other purposes, Zeilman said.
Questions regarding the mass CodeRed mass notification system can be directed to the county Office of Emergency Services at 885-2232.
Reach Gazette reporter Ned Campbell at 395-3142, [email protected] or @nedcampbell on Twitter.