Friday, February 23, 2001

In case of emergency, county will call you




By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The next time an automatic-dialing machine calls residents of Butler County, it might not be a telemarketer.

        “If your phone rings, pick it up. It could be 30 seconds of vital information about an emergency,” said William Turner, director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency.

[photo] Karen Preston, assistant director of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency, works on the database of the county's computerized telephone dialing system
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        Within weeks, Butler County will begin using a high-speed, computerized telephone dialing system to inform residents, businesses and safety workers about emergencies. The information could range from boil-water advisories to tornado warnings, Mr. Turner said.

        “Up until now, we had to manually map out people at risk and notify them through television, radio, outdoor sirens and loudspeakers on police cruisers,” he said. “Unless they were tuned in or outdoors to hear the loudspeaker or warning sirens, people would miss the warning.”

        A growing number of communities are using or considering similar systems under different trademarked names, including Reverse 911. Hamilton and Boone counties are already using systems much like the one Butler County purchased, the Communicator by Dialogic Communica tions Inc. of Nashville, Tenn.

        The system can dial up to 1,000 numbers an hour, reaching pagers, land-line phones and cellular telephones. It will then play a recorded message that begins something like: “This is the Butler County Emergency Management Agency automated notification system with an important message.”

        The Communicator also can send about 600 one-page faxes per hour.

        While the system would be unable to notify all 114,000 Butler County residences about a fast-moving tornado, it could be used to warn people in especially vulnerable areas.

       



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