Reverse 911 coming soon for cellphonesA new website may expand the reverse emergency call system to cellphone users in Dunn and Stark counties, officials said Friday, which could help more people avoid injury or death during disasters.
By: April Baumgarten, The Dickinson Press
A new website may expand the reverse emergency call system to cellphone users in Dunn and Stark counties, officials said Friday, which could help more people avoid injury or death during disasters.
Although there are more than 19,000 numbers already in the database, Stark County Emergency Manager Bill Fahlsing said the system mostly covers landlines.
“We are hoping to increase that number so we can identify and notify the largest amount of the population that we can,” Fahlsing said.
Cellphones outnumber landlines almost two to one in North Dakota. As of July, almost 507,000 cellphones were in use in the state, according to the North Dakota Public Service Commission. About 288,000 landlines exist.
“There are always going to be people who continue to have landlines,” said Scott Sheldon, PSC consumer affairs specialist. “The majority of people going with cellphones are younger people. I don’t know why or if they would ever go back to a landline.”
Cellphone-carrying residents will be able to register their numbers at the reverse 911 website. Signing up for the service is free, Fahlsing said. The website will launch in three months.
“We do have the ability to put in cellphones,” Fahlsing said. “Anyone that wants their cellphone tied to their address, they need to contact my office.”
When dispatchers need to alert the community of a crisis, they can send a voice message to all of the numbers in the reverse emergency call system database.
The system has been useful, said Dana Becker, Dickinson Police Department dispatch specialist. In 2009, the system was used to alert residents that four Alabama fugitives were in the area. After a resident received the message, Dickinson police received a tip that the fugitives were on a farmstead south of Gladstone, resulting in their capture.
“It is a great tool if you have a missing child or a missing endangered adult because it just alerts everyone,” Becker said. “We’re just geared up to answer those calls and any tips we get.”
For more information on the website or to sign-up for the reverse emergency call system, contact Fahlsing’s office at 701-456-7605.