RBC | What’s your emergency?
In the event of an emergency, how much personal information would you reveal to first responders?
Behind banks of computer screens, 24 hours a day, dispatch operators are on standby for every conceivable emergency call. No one wants to call 911, but when there’s a need we want the dispatcher on the other end of that call to have the best information to send us the right kind of help in a timely fashion.
With the increasing transition from land lines to cell phones, the county started using CodeRed about 10 years ago. Residents were encouraged to register with CodeRed—giving dispatch vital information about your home address, which wasn’t accessible for cell phone calls—and in return receiving text or phone messages about emergency alerts in the county.
Beginning May 1, the county is switching to a new system: Swift911. This state-of-the-art technology will give first responders an edge when it comes to helping those who call, as well as saving the department money.
The fully-customizable program gives participants the opportunity to divulge as few or as many details as they’re comfortable sharing, and will give dispatchers a broader range of information to share with residents—from road closures to weather alerts—in real-time.
According to Mike Cook, communications supervisor for the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office, the new app will allow his team to upload localized maps, create contact groups (schools or hospitals, for example), and send automatic messages. Alerts can be generated in “a minute or less compared to three to five minutes,” he said. “That’s a big deal for us.”
How will citizens benefit from the new program besides the alerts? Let’s say you live out of town alone with three aggressive guard dogs. The only access to your property is a hidden driveway lacking a visible address. You’re on oxygen, and supervise two preschoolers with severe allergies, one of whom has just been stung by a bee. You call 911, and because you’ve accessed the app and entered that information, first responders know right away what to be prepared for when they arrive at your home. The minutes saved could mean the difference between life and death for yourself or a loved one.
Households with residents who may have problems communicating with first responders due to disabilities or mental health problems will also benefit from the new system, providing greater protection for them through greater knowledge of the situation by first responders.
“Home Alone” monitoring is also an option with the new system, providing daily check-ins at no charge for individuals who live alone and may be at risk of a fall or other problem.
“The information is not shared with anybody,” Cook said. “We want to stress that it’s all voluntary.”
The new system will go “live” May 1, but everyone is encouraged to start signing up now. There will be several tests conducted at the end of April, and feedback is welcome.
How to Participate:
– Visit www.rbc.us/298/Rio-Blanco-Alerts and Click “register now” in the Swift911 Portal, or text Swift911 to 99538 and you’ll receive a link to download the free app and complete the registration.
– Answer as many or as few of the questions as you choose. If you have ideas for other questions that should be included, contact Cook at 878-9600, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Rangely Police Department for questions and assistance at 970-675-8466.
– Download the free app for your mobile device if you haven’t already done so.
– Don’t assume that your phone number is automatically included. If your landline is unlisted, you have changed your number or address in the last year, or use a cell phone as your primary home phone, you should register.
– If you registered for CodeRed and checked the “privacy” box, your information won’t be transferred.
– Register your business, as well as your home.