Dodge County residents will now be able to sign up for local emergency alerts through a newly launched alerting and notification system.
The system was developed through a partnership between Dodge County and the City of Fremont and is intended to be used for public safety notifications as well as incidents that may have significant impacts to residents within the county.
“We have a commitment to ensure public safety, community awareness and emergency response,” Tom Smith, Dodge County Emergency Management Director said.
“To uphold this, when critical information and public service announcements are available, we need to provide our residents information as quickly and reliably as possible.”
The new warning system, provided by the company AlertSense, was approved by the Dodge County Board of Supervisors in a Sept. 2018 meeting for $7,125 over five years.
The new system has several different capabilities. It allows the county to send internal alerts within different areas of government, like the fire department. The system also sends emergency notifications to the general public via landlines and social media. And it also sends wireless emergency alerts to cell phones, and through television and over the radio.
“It allows the public first responders to send messages directly to the public without relying on some other means to get their information,” Smith said. “[the public] can receive it directly from a public safety agency in the local government.”
Emergency alerts could be related to specific hazards that require some kind of action be taken such as evacuation, shelter in place, boil water orders, etc. Non-emergency alerts could include significant transportation problems with prolonged impacts or significant ongoing police or fire activity.
Without this system, the main notification system operated at the local level is the outdoor warning sirens that often sound during tornadoes, high winds and other similar events. But those don’t provide much information, Smith said. Tornado warnings, meanwhile, are sent wirelessly by the National Weather Service and other alerts, like Amber Alerts, are coordinated at the state level, Smith said.
Those listed in the Yellow or White Pages will be automatically subscribed to alerts by landline phone, but the system also allows citizens to self-register and provide additional contact information. Unlisted numbers are not provided.
Smith says that the effectiveness of the new system will rely on community participation, and that residents are encouraged to register to begin receiving alerts.
Residents can sign up for alerts and notifications by vising the Dodge County Emergency Management Office webpage at dodgecounty.nebraska.gov/emergency-manager.
Sign up can also be completed by downloading the free AlertSense mobile app for Android and Apple devices, or texting your zip code to 38276.
Messages will be sent to residents on their preferred contact paths—cell phones, SMS (text), home phone, or email—to ensure real-time access to potentially lifesaving information.