One of my concerns when elected as Commissioner of Public Health and Safety and as Assistant Fire Chief; was the emergency notifications of residents within the city and the fire protection district in the event of a tornado or an incident at the nuclear power plant.  As a child I recall being told that the Illinois Valley was safe because the likelihood of a tornado striking in a valley was nil.  Well, that myth was certainly unproven when a tornado struck Utica and resulted in numerous fatalities. I also knew that for Marseilles residents the blowing of the fire siren at best was inadequate and antiquated.

Mayor Trager and I both had the opportunity to attend meetings in regards to the Code Red, an extremely high speed emergency telephone communication service that will deliver a customized prerecorded emergency message directly to homes, businesses and cell phones within a designated Code Red community at the rate of 60,000 calls per hour. This service is commonly referred to as a “reverse 911”.  In meetings with Code Red and Marseilles Telephone Company it was determined that Marseilles residents could be alerted of a situation in approximately 5-6 minutes. In the unfortunate event of an imminent tornado, an incident at the nuclear power plant, or other disaster.

Other uses of the Code Red can be notification of road closures, school cancellations, missing children or elderly persons as well as any situations whereby community help and thousands of eyes can be an asset to officials.  Code Red communities have access to the most sophisticated calling equipment as well as thousands of phone lines 24 hours a day seven days a week. A Code Red alert can be initiated by authorities from anyplace on the planet.  Code Red also has distributions Centers located throughout the United States so that even in the event of a disaster at one of the Code Red facilities calls and community safety will never be in jeopardy.

Subsequent to a presentation at a city council meeting Mayor Trager and I received unanimous support from fellow council members Bob Davis, Jim Buckingham and Cheryl O’Brien; as well as Police Chief Jim Hovious, Fire chief Mick Garrison and Ambulance Director Roger Enrich.  Code Red is in the process of being implemented and I hope to have Code Red fully operational by the end of 2008 at the latest.

Approximately 605 of known phone numbers will be taken from databases and installed by Code Red.  Resident whom have unlisted numbers or would like notification via cell phone can go to the code Red Web Site as soon as the system is operation and enter numbers they would like to be notified on.  Residents needing assistance will be able to receive information at city hall or the police department.  A form will be available and if you would like our telecommunicaters to enter the information we will be more than happy to do.

Residents will also have the option of being on a do not call list if for some reason they don’t want to be notified of an incident.

Once the system is operational I as well as my fellow emergency service workers and council members will have peace of mind that are residents are covered by one of the best systems available.

If you would like further information please click on the Code Red Logo above.

I would also note that the village of Utica this year became a Code Red community as did LaSalle, Peru and Oglesby.  I also know that Utica utilized their Code Red recently when the town was being flooded by the Illinois River.  Reports I have received is that the alert notification went flawlessly and was a great help to emergency workers.

If you have any question please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely yours,

Jim Hollenbeck
Commissioner of Public Health and Safety
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