Greenwood County has implemented a new alert system to notify residents of emergencies and severe weather in the area.
The new system, known as Code Red, can notify citizens of emergencies or severe weather via text message, email or telephone call. The county has been utilizing the system since July 1 to work out the kinks and make sure it is ready for the public. According to Greenwood County emergency management coordinator George McKinney, the system is now ready for public use and is a highly effective tool to notify people of emergencies.
“Code Red’s robust system will provide local officials with a reliable, easy-to-use interface to quickly disseminate critical information to our citizens and employees during emergencies,” McKinney said. “We are very eager to use this technology to enhance our integrated emergency management program.”
The system will cost the county $18,000 annually, McKinney said, half of which will be paid from the federal grant for emergency management operations. The emergency notification system is $15,000 of the cost with the remaining $3,000 for the weather alert system. The county can send unlimited text messages and emails through the system and have 75,000 minutes for phone calls, or about enough minutes to notify every user in the county twice. The system is currently being used by 21 other counties, two municipalities and one state-level agency, according to McKinney.
The system has a variety of functions for Greenwood County employees, according to McKinney. McKinney said that, in addition to notifying residents of emergencies, the system also has assigned teams, such as SWAT, that can be notified of situations. It is also available for use by municipalities and other governmental agencies at any time for no charge.
“Members of the SWAT team can get a text message or email or phone call telling them to contact their commander,” McKinney said. “Those alerts can go out with the click of a button in about 30 seconds.”
The primary method of signing up for the alerts is through the Greenwood County website at www.GreenwoodSC.gov
. There, citizens can opt in to receive the alerts. McKinney said he is urging businesses and citizens alike to provide a landline phone number, a cell phone number and an email address for the notifications. If a resident does not have access to the internet, they can call 864-942-8553 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to register. Additionally, there are registration forms which can be filled out and returned to McKinney’s office. Registration forms can currently be found at the Tax Collector’s office and will soon be available at a number of other places throughout the county.