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New emergency management notification features can help save lives

Published: Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 11:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 2:15 p.m. CDT

The more you know could save your life.

That is the thought behind CodeRED, a high-speed mass-communication notification system.

Union County Emergency Management will use this system to contact Union County residents in the event of an actual or impending emergency.

Jo Anne Duckworth, Union County Emergency Management director, said the system is capable of calling the entire county within 30 minutes.

Opt in

Duckworth said CodeRED is an opt-in system, which means, to receive alerts, residents will have to go to Union County Emergency Management homepage online to sign up or update their information, or visit the Union County Emergency Management office.

By having an opt-in notification system, Duckworth said it’s a great way to update the old information.

“Say its been six years — people move and never change their address,” Duckworth said. “It’s important to have that information updated.”

More than weather

Messages disseminated through CodeRED include weather information, evacuation notices, missing persons, planned utility outages and emergency road closures use CodeRed to issue an emergency evacuation notification to residents within a half-mile of the facility.

“I just put in the radius and it contacts everyone within that radius,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth said, in the case of one Union County man who did not return home for dinner after a day of working in the field, a notification was sent out to residents within a half mile of the missing man’s property.

“We were able to contact everyone within that radius, say we had a missing person and asked if they had heard or saw him that afternoon to let us know. Or, if they wanted to volunteer for a search party,” Duckworth said.

How it works

Signing up for CodeRED guarantees receiving messages regarding the safety of your community and area.

When opting and updating your information through CodeRED, registrants can choose to receive alerts via phone call, text message, email or any combination of those formats.

“It’s easy,” Duckworth said. “Go to the county website and there’s a little logo that says ‘CodeRED: click here to get started.’”

A CodeRED message will have a caller ID of (866) 419-5000 and will be identified as “Emergency Comm.”

Duckworth said, if receiving alerts by phone call, to listen to the entire message. She said you can hit any key to replay the message.


“We are very, very, very fortunate to have this,” Duckworth said. “I’m thankful the (Union County) Board of Supervisors and my commission (Union County Emergency Management Commission) support and fund this.”

Duckworth said, when it comes to safety, signing up is the best thing anyone can do.

“To update that information is priceless,” Duckworth said. “We don’t want to miss somebody. That’s one of the biggest fears I have.”

To sign up for emergency notifications or to update your emergency contact information, go to www.unioncountyiowa.org/ or call Duckworth at (641) 782-1622.

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