Wichita Falls_In July, 7News reported on a new service in Wichita Falls that will warn residents about severe weather. It's now up and running, but so is another phone service that promises to do even more. The service is called "Code Red," and the city's emergency preparedness office can use it to send out evacuation orders, alerts about area disasters, and information about missing persons.
The City of Wichita Falls already has phone numbers for the roughly 60,000 home telephone customers in the area, and people who rely on cell phones can also take advantage of the system after registering their number.
Time is critical in emergency situations, and authorities need to get information to people in a hurry. "It could be a law enforcement event, it could be a fire incident, it doesn't really matter...whatever that incident is," says Wichita Falls Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Jamie Moore. "We now have the ability to call people in their homes and tell them what's going on."
A computer in the Wichita Falls Emergency Preparedness Office can pinpoint who needs to be notified. "We can physically determine who we want to call," says Moore. "We can pick one house, a block, a region of the city or the entire city for that matter." The city is able to record a specific message to send to people in a specific area. For example, in 2007, an ammonia leak at a water treatment facility forced city authorities to evacuate neighborhoods by going door-to-door. "It's physically demanding on our resources to have to do that," says Moore.
"Code Red" is capable of placing 1,000 calls per minute to affected areas, and also leave messages on answering machines or voice mail. "I think that's good," said Wichita Falls resident Shannon Evans. "It will give everybody a warning to get out to safety. A lot of times you don't have enough warning to get out and get somewhere that you need to," she said. "They need to know what's going on when we're having an incident," says Moore. "This is a way that we can provide that information to them."
There are countless ways for Wichita Falls to use this new emergency communication tool. In fact, Moore says that the system was recently used to find a child who went missing in Florida. Thanks to the phone calls, the girl was found within minutes. The "Code Red" system will automatically work for all land lines in the Falls. However, if you only have a cell phone, you can register for the alerts by signing up for the free weather warning system at www.cwftx.net.