Two-thirds of audience reached

County launches Reverse 911 System

— The first launch of the county's emergency preparedness network reached about two-thirds of its intended audience.

The network's trial run targeted 311 telephone numbers in south Steamboat Springs. Routt County Emergency Manager Chuck Vale said the automated system successfully delivered 186 pre-recorded messages Thursday afternoon but did not reach 125 telephone numbers.

Vale attributed the undeliverable messages to incomplete connections, modem or fax lines, busy lines or telephone numbers without voice mail.

"Everyone in the target notification area may not have received a call due to building switching problems," Vale said. "We still have questions about what it did and didn't do."

The target area stretched from the intersection of Pine Grove Road and U.S. Highway 40, to the intersection of Pine Grove Road and Mount Werner Road, to the intersection of Mount Werner Road and U.S. 40.

The network, commonly known as the Reverse 911 System, immediately notifies people of pending disasters in their vicinity. The message tells people what to do about flooding, fires, hazardous waste spills and other emergencies.

Thursday's message told recipients what they were hearing was only a test.

Vale was concerned people who received the message would call 911 and overload the system, but there were no calls to the emergency dispatch system in reference to the network test.

Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Grand counties are sharing the cost of bringing Reverse 911 to the region.

Routt County must pay about $3,000 in startup fees, as well as $11,466 annually for the next five years to maintain the service.

The county's share is funded by 911 surcharge fees.

The four counties separately conducted a trial run of the system Thursday. Vale said representatives from each county would meet to discuss test results.

"We will now take time to evaluate the test results to ensure that target notification is as accurate as possible in the event of a real emergency situation," Vale said.

Reverse 911 includes a database that holds every phone number in the county, so public safety officials can reach a collective group of residents within minutes with the same message about an emergency.

Instantaneous notification eliminates the need for law enforcement to notify residents individually.

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