Montgomery County Emergency Notification System Article
The Montgomery County 911 and Emergency Management Departments utilize a telephone notification system to inform residents of utility outages, inclement weather, and emergency situations. Residents may voluntarily register their cellular phones for this service online on the Montgomery County website www.montgomerycountync.com.
The notification system utilizes the 911 service that is available on all land and cellular services. While landlines are updated directly into the database, cell phones must be voluntarily registered. Once activated, cellular phones are linked to the 911 address of their primary residence.
Residents are notified of emergency events by a process known as reverse 911. The system can be used to notify all participants in the event of a county-wide episode or can be pinpointed to notify only residents in a particular area, as may be the case with a utility outage for example. The system can be detailed down to a specific neighborhood or even as far as an individual street.
Last year, the reverse 911 system was used twenty-two times and currently has a database of 11,700 telephone numbers. The majority of the notification calls were related to water line breaks. Line breaks and pressure losses increase the potential for contamination. While subsequent testing showed no harmful elements during any break, the potential does exist, so the County utilizes the notification system to alert residents. After testing samples are returned, a follow-up notice is issued to remove the warning.
In order to ensure only current and valid numbers are being notified, the system is purged every three years. On March 15th this purge will occur. Following that process, the County will retrieve a current landline list from CenturyLink, Randolph, and Ellerbe telephone companies and upload the numbers into the system.
There is no fee to residents other than any phone and text charges which may apply through the cellular carrier. When the system is activated, residents will receive a computer generated voice message. The information contained within the message can also be found on the Montgomery County website. No calls are initiated without a corresponding notification on the County website.
Regardless of the type of message being broadcast, the system will start each message with “this is an important notification from the Montgomery County Emergency Management Department, please listen carefully to the following announcement…” The service is restricted for use only in the event that public safety is at risk. The service is not available for public notifications of a non-emergency nature.
The County will include information related to the reverse 911 notification system on County water bills, tax notices, and on the County website. If residents have any questions concerning the notification system, they should contact Robbie Smith, Emergency Management Director, at 910-572-1347.