DeKalb launches emergency alert system

Will provide way to reach residents in emergencies

DeKALB – DeKalb emergency officials have a new way to notify residents in the case of severe weather, large fires or other emergency situations.

The city of DeKalb this week launched CodeRED, a high-speed emergency notification system that allows officials to call, text or email residents in the case of an emergency, bad weather or other events that could affect their lives such as a boil order or road block.

“It’s a quality-of-life thing so people will be more informed about what’s going on in their neighborhood,” Assistant Fire Chief Jeff McMaster said.

Officials can send an alert to residents who have provided their contact information within five minutes of deciding to send a notification. They also can select who to notify based on their location in the city. For instance, officials could choose to notify community members living near an area of the Kishwaukee River that is going to flood, Community Relations Officer Chad McNett said.

“I fully expect it will enhance public safety in instances where we need to notify a large group of people,” McNett said, adding the city still will use sirens in the case of a tornado. “This adds an extra layer of notification.”

Officials also plan to employ the alerts for missing children or if police are pursuing a dangerous criminal.

McMaster cited instances where CodeRED would be used, such as a large fire billowing harmful smoke or plumes from a chemical hazard moving towards an area.

“We can give people concrete direction on how to protect themselves or where to go,” McMaster said.

DeKalb has been investigating an emergency notification system to replace its former reverse 911 system for more than a year. CodeRED will cost the city $12,500 annually, McMaster said.

Officials said they selected the CodeRED system, which is run by Florida-based Emergency Communications Network, because of its unrivaled reliability and accuracy in addition to its widespread use. The city of Genoa approved a 14-month contract for the CodeRED system in March, while the city of Sycamore is expected to launch the system in the coming weeks.

Although the city has been provided with a number of residential and business telephone numbers, officials encourage residents to enroll additional contact information by visiting the city of DeKalb’s website, www.cityofdekalb.com, and clicking the CodeRED logo on the right side of the page.