Wednesday, September 17, 2008

DECODING CODE RED

On August 13th our home phone rang repeatedly with caller ID showing 999-911-9999. Upon answering we received pre-recorded information that the City of Dripping Springs was implementing a "CODE RED" emergency communication system and directed us to the City's website for further instructions where we were then directed to the website for "CodeRED® Residential Data Collection" to enter our contact information (telephone, email, address). When we asked others around Dripping if they had received that call or knew anything about "CODE RED" (or "CodeRED®", rather) the typical answer was "no". When we reviewed the city's proposed 2009 budget and saw $5,000 budgeted to this notification system we decided to find out just who all it was intended to cover and what had been the response to the automated calls and website registration. Per the always responsive Jo Ann Touchstone at City Hall:

"It costs $5,000.00 per year. It is intended to cover the City limits, which has approximately 2000 residents. People outside the city limits, but in the Dripping Springs area may register to be added to our call list. The original call list for the city limits was 770 and we have added 88 phone numbers. The CodeRed system allows us to make calls to targeted areas (numbers) whether they have registered or not. "

Jo Ann also sent documents with some information on the system which is designed to be used for emergencies such as natural disasters, "man-made" disasters (terrorist threats, bombs, HAZMAT emergencies, hostage situations, nuclear hazards), missing people, evacuations, drinking water contamination, utility outages, prisoner escapes, sexual predator alerts, etc.

We're wondering if "Riley's is about to run out of meat" could be added to that emergency situations list, then the annual cost would be completely justified.