For severe, localized emergencies, such as evacuations required by fire or flood, Douglas County uses an emergency notification system where homes and businesses in the affected area are contacted via telephone, based upon listings in telephone company number and address databases. This service is provided by Intrado, a Longmont-based company that is the nation’s leading provider of the Emergency Public Notification systems.
During the Cherokee Ranch fire in October, 2003, many CPN residents did not receive an emergency evacuation phone call. While the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office indicated that call failures resulted from call-blocking features on residents’ phones, the Master Association’s Safety Committee determined that most residents in areas north of Castle Pines Parkway did not receive calls. The Sheriff’s department recently revealed there was an error in defining the area to receive the calls.
“The Sheriff’s staff informed us the fire was originally reported at Cherokee Ranch, so the emergency notification calls were made to Castle Pines Village and the southern portion of CPN,” said Conner. “Once the actual location of the fire was determined to be west of CPN, the Sheriff’s office depended upon the emergency personnel deployed in the area to conduct notification, rather than making additional evacuation phone calls.”
“Once we got the explanation of what happened, then we started discussing what can be done to avoid problems in the future,” said Conner. “There has been one big improvement since the time of the Cherokee Ranch fire-- the Sheriff’s Office now assigns specific officers to our area, so emergency personnel would know more about the area. Now, we want to make sure that there’s a good emergency plan that integrates all of CPN’s unique needs.”
The Safety Committee has also received clarification on the types of “call blocking” systems that would block an emergency notification call. “Residents should have no problem receiving emergency notification calls if they accept calls from numbers that display their Caller ID,” said Mark Fei, a CPN resident who brings telecommunications expertise to the Safety Committee. “These calls will show on your caller ID with a 303 or 720 area code, and a name such as ‘PUBLIC ALERT.’ But if you have call blocking or use third-party blocking devices like Telezapper, emergency calls may not get through.”
The automatic notification system will deliver the message to answering machines or voice mail. In addition, the emergency calling system will re-call numbers with busy signals, continuous ringing with no answer, and fax or modem signals.
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Notification for Tornadoes and Other Emergencies
What Should YOU Do? Get an emergency radio and/or software