RIDGEFIELD -- Officials will blanket some neighborhoods with mock emergency phone alerts Saturday morning as part of the first test of the borough's new disaster phone notification system
Phones at some 500 homes in the north and northeastern sections of the borough will ring between 10 and 11 a.m.
People who pick up the receiver will hear a 30-second automated message asking them to conduct a home fire drill and to report to the Ridgefield Community Center at 725 Slocum Ave. before noon to learn more about planning for a disaster.
The borough's so-called SwiftReach system, run through the county's Office of Emergency Management, allows delivery of recorded warnings or emergency instructions to thousands of homes in less than an hour.
Ridgefield subscribed to the service last year
The emergency phone systems, commonly called Reverse 911, has become increasingly popular since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.The purpose of the Ridgefield drill is to determine the effectiveness of the system.
The automated call will ask residents to push "1" if they understood the message.
Emergency officials will use software to track how many people hang up before listening to the entire message.
They also will test their own handling of the residents who report to the community center, which would serve as a shelter in the event of some disasters.
"If the system doesn't work properly, or if people aren't going to listen to the message, we want to know now, not during an emergency," said Al Hoffman, the borough's deputy coordinator for emergency management. "A lot of people probably won't be home or won't come down to the community center, but we should have an adequate number to test our shelter registration," Hoffman said.
Emergency officials originally planned to call all 4,500 homes in the borough, but state emergency management personnel asked them to limit the test because they were concerned it could overload the regular 911 system with calls from confused or worried residents.
Hoffman said he has been trying to let residents know about the test beforehand so it is not mistaken for a real emergency. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Re-Printed from the Bergen Record
June 9, 2006
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