Officials to test 911 mass notification system

By Thomas Garcia: PNT staff writer

Portales and Roosevelt County residents could soon receive a call from the 911 mass notification system.

The system, a joint project of the city and county, can be used to notify and inform residents at the same time, said Keith Wattenbarger, city and county emergency management director.

The system can send an automated message via the phone to as many as 18,000 residents at one time.

Officials hope to run a small-scale test at the end of this month or early November.

One example of the system in action is that in the event of a a tornado, the system can be used to contact residents in the path of that storm, Wattenbarger said.

“This system will be a great tool for spreading vital information that could effect Portales and Roosevelt County residents,” Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said.

“A perfect example is the inmates that escaped from Curry County (Adult Detention Center in August),” Berry said. “If the system had been in place, we could send out a notification to all the residents, alerting them and advising caution.”

When citizens are called individually, Berry said, sometimes the information changes slightly from call to call.

There will be a section added to the Portales Police Department Web Site to allow users to register their cell phones.

“These days not everyone has a house line, but they have a cell phone,” Berry said.

Wattenbarger said another benefit is for homebound residents.

“If there was a disaster we could send out a message just to them,” Wattenbarger said. “If they receive the message, they can let us know if they need help.”

If a caller does not respond or pickup the message, a first responder will know to check on them, Berry said.

“This will cut down on the door-to-door checks by first responders,” Berry said.

The $27,000 project is funded 75 percent by the city and 25 percent by the county.