New emergency notification system in Colonial Heights

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA (WWBT) - As the season's first hurricane looks to make landfall  Colonial Heights is urging residents to sign up for its new emergency notification system.

The new system is called Code-Red. It allows the city to quickly provide mass notification to residents in the event of an emergency, like an earthquake or a hurricane.

Resident Margaret Taylor usually finds out  about  city emergencies through the media -- not the city.

"I wait to see it on TV because I watch a lot of news," said Taylor.

Now, Taylor and other residents in Colonial Heights have a new and improved way of finding out about significant incidents and events fast. The city recently launched Code-Red Emergency Notification. It's a high speed telephone calling system.

"You can get warnings early and prepare for it. If a storm's coming up we can notify you with what the city is doing," said Lt. Joe Boisseau, Colonial Heights Fire Department.

As Hurricane Irene looks to make landfall the system will likely be put to use in the upcoming days.

Under the new system dispatchers are taken out of the equation. Code-Red works in conjunction with the National Weather Service.

"So when the National Weather Service issues a weather emergency for our area and they place us within a box -- it'll send that information out bypassing our dispatch center," said Boisseau.

Residents must register a phone number or e-mail with the city in order to get alerts. And those who sign up can choose what they'd like to be alerted about -- options range from severe weather to fire emergencies.

Again, to receive Code-Red warnings you must register your home, cell phone, or business phone number with the city -- you can do that online by going to the city's website or call the city's fire administration office at 520-9387.

The city says information received under the program will be kept confidential.

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