Last summer, as the flames of the Cave Creek Complex wildfire crept closer to Cave Creek, town officials were faced with the threat of evacuation. But the only method they had to warn residents was to go to each house individually.
“After the Cave Creek Complex fire we realized going door-to-door was not very effective for us,” Town Marshal Adam Stein said. “We thought to ourselves ‘there’s got to be a better way.’ ”
After a little research they discovered a system, called Code Red, which allows emergency officials to quickly send recorded messages to residents in a “reverse 911" telephone system.
The town was the first community in the state to purchase the system for $10,000 a year, or $2.25 a resident. The system went into effect this week.
Now, in an emergency, Stein will simply use his laptop to map the area of town he would like to notify and record a message.
Within minutes, residents would receive the phone call and be alerted.
“The capability of the system is that it can make up to 60,000 phone calls in a one-hour period,” Stein said. “Pretty good for a town that only had 4,500 residents.”
The system will not only enhance emergency services during wildfire season, it enables the town to alert residents of any emergency. Besides Stein, only the town clerk and manager have access to the system.
“It’s kind of like having a spare tire in your trunk. You hope you never have to use it, but you know it’s there when you need it,” he said.
The system came with the home numbers of town residents but residents can update their contact information and list their cell or work phone numbers as well by logging on to the town’s Web site: www.cavecreek.org.
Resident Bob Moore was one of the first to include his contact information in Code Red. He said it took only 30 seconds.
“I think it’s a superb program,” he said.