Crawford County’s emergency alert system, CodeRed, went into affect on February 26, 2013. Since then, the system has been used by the county 16 times, using a total of 9,713 minutes of service for landline calls, or 45-percent of the minutes allotted per year in the service contract.
Crawford County Chairperson Pete Flesch is happy with the service overall.
“Obviously, it certainly hasn’t operated as well as it potentially could have,” Flesch said. “It’s improving as we become used to using it.”
The service allows the county to call every landline in the county or just those in a specific geographic area. It also allows the county to send out equally broad or narrow emails and text alerts to those who sign up an email address or cellphone number. Users may also choose to receive severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
The CodeRed service plan purchased by the county provides 21,250 minutes of usage for landline calls. Unlimited texts, emails, and weather alerts are provided to the county as part of the plan.
“This (CodeRed system) becomes more effective as more people become aware of it,” Flesch said of the service.
The county board chairperson signed up his cellphone for text and weather alerts, which he said have proven useful as he works on his farm, though he sees room for continued improvement.
Before the system was activated, municipalities throughout the county were informed of the system. So far, only the City of Prairie du Chien, Freeman Township and the Village of Ferryville have requested CodeRed be used to notify residents of an issue.
The breakdown of alerts through the first eight months of use is:
• Countywide landline, email, and text alerts
April 7, the closure and reopening of the Highway 18 Mississippi River Bridge (6,702 minutes total)
October 21, notification of the capture of a registered sex offender who had cut his monitoring bracelet off (1,921 minutes).
• Localized landline calls, email, and text alerts
March 4, removal of cars from streets for snow plowing in the City of Prairie du Chien (1,329 minutes)
March 7, an emergency water shutoff to affected City of Prairie du Chien residents (39 minutes)
August 5, a road closure for affected residents in Freeman Township and the Village of Ferryville (123 minutes).
• Countywide texts and email only alerts
June 22, a flash flood warning and a road closure on Highway 35 between Prairie du Chien and DeSoto
September 19, a severe thunderstorm/heavy rains
October 3, a severe thunderstorm/heavy rain and hail
October 21, notification of a registered sex offender at large after he cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet
• Localized text and email only alerts
June 25, potential storm water overflow on Jackson Street in the City of Prairie du Chien
June 27, a road closure with traffic only open to emergency vehicles on Highway 61
August 8, a road closure with traffic only open to emergency vehicles in Freeman Township and the Village of Ferryville
September 1, a juvenile runaway notice sent first in the City of Prairie du Chien and then to the surrounding area
• Weather alerts
Fifty landline alerts and 95 text and email alerts.
The county database currently holds 5,299 landline residential records and 55 business records. Additionally, the database now has 822 cellphones registered for text alerts and 668 emails registered. Of those records, 1,028 have chosen to receive weather alerts.
In reviewing the calls for the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout, 911 Dispatch Director Julie Cipra caught a billing mistake with the vendor, who initially reported that 12,347 minutes had been used. That has since been corrected to an actual 9,713 minutes used.
Working with CodeRed, the county has continued to refine their approach, according to officials involved with the system.
“We initially wanted to be able to send texts on every accident to EMS and Fire Department, which has not proven entirely practical,” Crawford County Sheriff Dale McCullick said.
The sheriff noted that the system was a tool for improving communication and as such subject to human error. The chain of command has been expanded, to insure someone is always available to make the call on CdeRed usage.
“It’s a tool we didn’t have,” McCullick said. “That said, no one should absolutely rely on only it (CodeRed) to know what is happening.”
There are two ways to sign up additional phone numbers or to choose to receive the weather alerts:
• Visit the Crawford County online at www. http://crawfordcountywi.org and click on the ‘CodeRed and CodeRed Weather Warning’ link
• Call 608-326-0267 to leave a message and someone will return your call to assist you with signing up