The city of Belleville has a new way to give residents emergency alerts. It’s called CodeRED.
If there’s a tornado warning, a train derailment, a boil order or a police standoff in their neighborhood, residents can quickly get the information they need through CodeRED, according to Fire Chief Tom Pour. You can get alerts via home phone, cellphone, text messages, email and TTY for the hearing impaired.
How does CodeRED work?
Pour said if a tornado warning is issued, the system allows the warning to be sent to a specific area of the city. “It will even change as the trajectory of the tornado” changes “and just send out messages to people in that path,” he said.
If there is a train derailment involving chemicals and safety regulations indicate everyone in a one-mile radius should evacuate, a dispatcher can use a CodeRED map to target all of the residents in that zone and have them receive the alert.
“That’s why this is awesome,” Pour said. “In a minute’s time she can send a message out to every phone number that lies within that circle.”
When does it start?
The CodeRED system officially starts Saturday but the city has been using it for about a month.
How much does it cost?
The service is free for residents. The city agreed to pay $9,700 for one year of CodeRED service, down from the $16,000 that it paid annually to the previous company, Hyper-Reach, which had been the city’s provider since 2008. CodeRED, which has a three-year contract with Belleville, is offered by Ormond Beach, Fla.-based Emergency Communications Network. Pour said the new contract provides “more service for less cost to the taxpayers.”
Do I have to sign up?
If you only want your home phone registered, there is no need to register. However, Pour strongly encourages residents to sign up with CodeRED because then you can receive the alerts via other methods such as your cellphone, texts, email and TTY.
Where do I sign up?
Go to the city’s website at Belleville.net and then click on the article next to the CodeRED icon. Next, click on “CodeRED enrollment.” Follow the directions from there to fill in the ways you want to be notified. You can check a box to indicate you want to keep your information private.
Also, you can sign up in person at City Hall at 101 S. Illinois St. or at the fire department administration office at 1125 S. Illinois St.
CodeRED also has an app you can download to your smartphone. This allows you to get CodRED messages if you travel to other states where cities and counties use the service.
Who else uses CodeRED?
Madison, Clinton, Monroe and Bond counties use the service. Area towns with CodeRED include Swansea, Fairview Heights, O’Fallon, Lebanon, New Baden, Millstadt, New Athens, Breese, Glen Carbon, Highland, Marissa, Beckemeyer, Carlyle, Trenton and East Carondelet, according to a spokeswoman for Emergency Communications Network. Nationwide, there are 3,000 agencies signed up with CodeRED.
Walter Denton, city administrator for O’Fallon, said his city has used CodeRED for several years and it has “gone smoothly.”
Pour recommends metro-east residents to “check with their community and get signed up wherever they are” to enjoy all the safety benefits of the system.
Who sends out the message?
If it’s a weather warning, it’s automatically sent by the National Weather Service. In other cases, command officers in the police and fire departments and dispatchers have the security clearance to select an area that needs a warning and then contact CodeRED.