News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 11, 2013

Vigo has new system to send alerts to residents

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Vigo County residents can sign up for a new emergency alert program that will notify them of  such events as severe weather, road closures, missing persons and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods.

It’s called Everbridge, and it replaces the Code Red alert system the county previously used.

County 911 director Rob McMullen told the 911 Advisory Board on Tuesday the public can already sign up for the alerts through the county and city websites, but that the public rollout of the system is planned for August.

A user can specify where to receive alerts, such as on a home phone, mobile or business phone or via email, text message or pager. The user can personalize which alerts to receive, such as severe weather only, and when not to receive alerts, such as overnight.

McMullen said the new system also allows for personalized community notices, such as when fire hydrants will be flushed in neighborhoods, or when leaf pickup is planned, or boil orders due to water line breaks.

“It’s easy for dispatchers to use,” McMullen said of the system, noting that it could take several minutes for a Code Red alert to reach recipients. But the Everbridge system is quicker.

Chief Bill Mercier of the Indiana State University Public Safety department said the campus community also is interested in adding Everbridge, mainly because it can reach out to university staff in a phone-tree notification format.

The university already utilizes a campuswide alert system for emergencies such as school shooters or fires.

Discussion with university officials about joining the system is planned for late this month.

n On another matter, McMullen said more than 80 percent of the calls received by the Vigo County Dispatch Center come from cellular phones.

In May, almost 7,600 total calls were received, and in June, more than 7,700 calls were made to 911 dispatchers. In the first six months of the year, the dispatch center has received more than 40,300 wireless and landline 911 calls.

In other business, members of the 911 advisory board agreed to meet with West Terre Haute officials to talk about the town’s helping fund one dispatcher position at the 911 center.

And, McMullen said he is working on an early activation policy to cover which emergency personnel are authorized to request a wrecker to be dispatched to an accident scene. The issue came up a few months ago when a firefighter requested a wrecker at an accident scene, but that request was delayed because it was not understood that the wrecker was to be used for extrication, not removing vehicles.

The 911 advisory board will next meet in September at the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.