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New system sends emergency alerts to cell phones, email

Posted: July 2, 2013 - 11:06pm
County worker Suzie Hughes shows the Web site where people can register to get severe weather alerts sent to their cell phone or e-mail.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
County worker Suzie Hughes shows the Web site where people can register to get severe weather alerts sent to their cell phone or e-mail.

A new system allows Columbia County officials to more effectively notify residents of emergencies.

The public notification system went into operation Friday. The First Call Emergency Notification System replaces an older system used by the county for more than a decade. The old system sent a recorded message only to land lines in a specified area.

The systems are used to notify residents of emergencies such as chemical spills, severe weather and missing persons, as well as less-severe situations such as water outages and road closures. The voice or text messages can be targeted to residents in areas affected by the event.

With the popularity of cell phones and the decline of traditional land lines, county Emergency and Operations Division Director Pam Tucker said the old system didn’t reach as many residents as she’d like, leaving many residents not notified.

“That was a huge issue with us,” Tucker said.

The new system allows residents to register their cell phones, SMS text phones, VoIP phones and/or e-mail addresses to receive notifications affecting their residence, even when they aren’t home. The notifications are tied to a resident’s home address, not their current location.

“This way, you are going to know who, what, when, where and why,” Tucker said. “And you’re going to know it by phone call on your e-mail and a text, if you sign up for all those.”

All land lines are already included in the system. Residents can register their devices and e-mail address online. They also have the option to receive severe weather alerts.

Tucker said she doesn’t recommend relying on the severe weather notifications instead of having a NOAA severe weather alert radio.

“I think that everybody should have multiple ways to receive notification that way if you don’t get it by one way, you get it by another,” Tucker said. “Multiple layers of notification. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket with notification.”

The new system is more user-friendly and offers officials more options.

The new system costs less – $25,000 a year compared to $40,000 for the old system. The cost is split between Tucker’s Division, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Columbia County Water Utility and Columbia County Construction and Maintenance Services Division.

“We’re just so happy about it,” Tucker said. “This is today’s technology at its best.”

To register, visit or visit and follow the links to the Emergency and Operations Division page.

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Comments (9)


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How long before the system is

How long before the system is installed? They will definitely need some wholesale electrical supplies to help them with the job, but once the system is installed it will last for years.


Since the traditional land

Since the traditional land lines are in decline, this new emergency system is will be able to keep up the pace with the technological advancements. With such wide variety of Samsung replacement parts it's a lot easier to upgrade our cell phones and make them compatible with this new emergency system, we just need to find the right ones first.

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This new system would

This new system would certainly help the community be more aware of the issues. However, the residents should install advanced security system to keep their homes protected. To keep the precious things in their house protected they should use safes and Pelican cases.


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It's just a matter of time

It's just a matter of time until all land lines will be replaced with wireless systems, which will ease even more sending emergency alerts. In this case, residents should call their cell phone accessories distributor to make all the necessary updates, before registering their phones into this system.


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  • 4272 Washington Rd, Suite 3B, Evans, Ga. 30809