Updated 03/21/2013 06:22 PM
Officials push residents to sign up for emergency alerts via cellphone
For years, Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties have had a system in place to alert residents of an emergency by calling them on their landlines. But in this new age of technology, a different approach is now necessary to make sure everyone in the counties can be reached. YNN's Erin Moran explains.
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NORTH COUNTRY, N.Y. -- The "home phone number" is becoming a thing of the past, and local officials were realizing this when it came to getting a hold of residents in an emergency situation.
“We have a reverse 911 system that we've used for years and what it does is it utilizes the hard-line home telephone numbers…with the folks getting rid of their home phones and moving towards cellular we saw a need to be able to access those cell phones,” said William Cook, the Director of Public Safety for Washington County.
Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties have been offering a free cellphone emergency alert system to locals. Residents can sign up for the alerts by visiting any of the counties' websites and clicking on the link. They would be asked to punch their cell phone number in along with their name and address, and from there, the system does all the work.
“If we get an emergency we'll do a hyper-reach campaign, it'll grab the cell phone number based off the home data and they'll be able to get the voice message, the text message, and/or an email,” said Cook.
The messages are sent out for a variety of reasons, whether it's severe weather, a rash of crime in the area, even a public health issue. The fact remains, though, that without an accurate number on record, resident won’t be getting valuable information.
“If we didn't have that information, we don't have a good means of being able to reach them,” said Shawn Lamouree, Warren County Undersheriff.
He said as of Wednesday, 511 people had signed up for the alerts in Warren County. But both he and Cook agree that it's a matter of safety for the residents of all counties, and they're hoping more locals will register soon.
“You're going to want to be able to get that information, we're going to want to get that information to you. If you rely solely on a cellphone you really need to sign up for this and it is for your protection,” said Cook.