SNOW HILL – County officials are encouraging residents to be better prepared for potential disasters with participation in a new emergency notification system.
Worcester County officials would like to see more residents sign up for CodeRED, the mass notification system now being used by the county. The program delivers messages to participants via telephone, text or email in the event of an emergency.
“It will help them be better prepared and ready to respond in an emergency situation,” said Fred Webster, Worcester County’s director of emergency services.
According to Webster, the county began using the CodeRED system in August. It replaced the notification system the county had used for the past seven years, for which just 1,000 of the county’s 55,000 residents registered.
Participation in the new system has been limited as well, however, as the county only has the publically listed phone numbers it acquired from Verizon. Most of those are landlines.
“Our weak spot is the cell phones,” Webster said. “Most people are getting away from landline phones.”
County officials are hoping citizens will contact Worcester County Emergency Services or visit www.co.worcester.md.us to sign up with their cell phone numbers. In the meantime, they’ve set up booths at local events to allow citizens to sign up for CodeRED. Since August, 40 business numbers and nearly 700 residential phone numbers have been added to the database.
The CodeRED system has the ability to contact the citizens in the county’s database via phone, text or email when an emergency occurs. Emergencies include both severe weather events as well as dangerous criminal activity. In the past, citizens have been notified when a wanted criminal has been in their neighborhood as well as when weather has been a threat. The severe weather alerts come straight from the National Weather Service.
“When you sign up you check a box for what warnings you’d like to receive,” Webster said.
He says county residents can be assured that the CodeRED system will only be used when necessary.
“We’re not going to push out messages that say it’s a nice and sunny day in Worcester County,” Webster said. “We’re using this strictly for emergency messaging.”
The system will be tested on Saturday when a portion of the numbers in the existing database will be called and will receive a message from 800-791-3749 indicating that the call was a test. For more information or to sign up for the CodeRED alerts go to www.co.worcester.md.us and click on the CodeRED logo or contact the county’s department of emergency services at 410-632-3080.