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Borough expands emergency notification system

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The Kenai Peninsula Borough has implemented a system where individuals can now receive emergency voice notifications through their cell phones. 

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Prior to the new system, the only way emergency messages were sent out over the phone lines were to hard-line telephones. Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management Director Eric Mohrmann said voice messages now will be sent to anyone who registers their phone number, be it hard-line or cellular, using a system called Rapid Notify.

“Since cell phones are becoming more and more prevalent, this gives us an opportunity to reach those persons with cell phones in a designated area,” Mohrmann said.

An emergency notification would be sent out to inform the public about wildfires, evacuation notices, tsunami warnings, flood situations, Amber alerts and other emergencies.

To register your phone number, the process is simple. Visit the borough’s website, and click on the Emergency Management link on the left. At the top of the page, there will be a link to register your phone number to receive emergency messages. 

The system is very effective, Mohrmann said. In June, a voice mail message went out in regards to a tsunami warning. Mohrmann said the voice mail reached 12,000 phone lines in 15 minutes.

The registered numbers go into a database where they are safe from outside interests, Mohrmann said.

“The numbers are secure, they are not used for any other purpose other than this Rapid Notify,” he said. “No one’s got access to it, it’s not sold to anybody, it’s not going to happen.”

The system is geography-based, meaning residents will receive information for the area where they live. For example, a user who registers for Kenai will not receive notifications for Homer. 

“They would only get the ones applicable to where they registered the telephone,” Mohrmann said.

For more information, visit the Kenai Peninsula Bourough Office of Emergency Management’s website at http://www.borough.kenai.ak.us/emergency/cellreg.htm

Or contact the Office of Emergency Management at oem@borough.kenai.ak.us or call 262-4910.

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