by Terry Rogers
Lt. Ed Huey of the Milford Police Department says that the department will soon begin using the SwiftReach program as a new alert system for citizens. SwiftReach is a leading provider of emergency alert solutions used by more than 1,500 organizations n government, enterprise, education and healthcare.
“SwiftReach is a notification system similar to the Code Red System that we were using,” Huey said. “However, it has lots more benefit and control for the end user, our community. The benefit to the police department is that, as the Emergency Management Agency for Milford, in cooperation with the Carlisle Fire Company, we continue to have the ability to notify our residents quickly of an emergency situation that warrants immediate community notification. Additionally, this system allows users to receive emergency weather notifications such as tornado warnings and severe thunderstorm warnings directly from the National Weather Service for no additional charge. With the old system, we would have to receive the information, then set up an alert and broadcast it. One of our major concerns was the ability to accomplish this in enough time to warn of an impending tornado, which typically does not give much advanced warning in the first place.”
The department obtained the new program through a contract with Swift Reach, which is based in New Jersey. According to Huey, this is not a pilot program as it has been in around for several years.
“Citizens will benefit in that they will get to manage the information they receive,” Huey explained. “So, someone who lives outside the city limits that receives their electric service from the city can sign up and receive alerts about electric service but will not receive notifications about water or sewer. Someone living inside the city limits that doesn’t drive may not want to receive information about road closures or major detours. Folks that are childless may not want to receive notifications about Parks and Recreation schedule changes and weather cancellations for youth activities, etc.”
Residents who had an account with Code Red must now create an account with SwiftReach so they can manage their preferences. Those that don’t have internet service can contact Huey at the Police Department and set up an appointment to get assistance setting up their account. Users can elect to have their notifications come in as landline calls, cellular calls, text messages, TTY messages for the hearing impaired or a mixture of each. The system also allows users to confirm receipt of the call and leaves a contact number that the user can call back to have the message repeated if they missed any portion of the information from the call or text messages.
“We are excited to offer this service to our community and asking all residents to consider signing up for, at a minimum, the emergency notifications,” Huey said. “We also want residents to understand the difference between the Smart911 and SwiftReach systems. The Smart911 system is a program used through the county 911 centers that allows end users to build a profile that shows up on a screen at the 911 centers in the event of an emergency that tells the dispatcher information hat could speed up the response and provide more information to police, fire and EMS services.” Huey explained that the end user selects the information that they want to share and they are in control of the information.
According to Huey, SwiftReach is the opposite in as far as instead of the user making a 911 call about an emergency that they see or are involved in, the department will contact the user and provide information about an emergency going on that could affect them or their family. Huey believes it is beneficial for community members to sign up for both SwiftReach and the Smart911 system. For more information about the SwiftReach program, contact Milford Police Department at 302-422-8081.
Sign up for you free digital subscription of The Weekly Review, delivered directly to your email every Tuesday morning. A quick cover-to-cover read to catch up on the news of the week and experience great stories about our local communities. Sign up for your free email subscription below.