Tuesday, June 11, 2013

If we alert you, will you hear it?

If you haven't signed your cell phone up for La Plata County's reverse 911 system you should do so now. Sign up HERE! to get  emergency alerts in La Plata County on your cell phone and internet based home phones. This includes Durango, Ignacio and Bayfield too.

La Plata County has several ways of letting people know there is an emergency in their midst. General information may be posted here on the blog, through the lpc_oem twitter feed or through the County website. When there is a real emergency threatening your neighborhood (that we are aware of, of course) we will use a Reverse 911 system to call you. Lights and sirens or door to door knocking will only follow if it is safe and reasonable.

Our latest use of reverse 911 was at 8:45PM in the first evening of looking for D a 13 year old boy who went missing from the Vallecito area north of Bayfield Monday November 19th, sadly we are still looking at the time of this post several months later. The message went out to 377 phone numbers, 104 were answered, 193 messages were left on machines and 80 were not answered after three attempts by the system.
If we look at how the math works, it looks ok.
  • 28% of the phones were answered by a person (presumably), 
  • 51 % reached machines which we assume would make it to a person, and 
  • 21% Failure: no contact was made (system failure, disconnected fax, etc.)
BUT - When we take into account that there are actually 878 addresses in the targeted area, only 43% had a chance of getting the message. If we do the math again:
  • 12% of the homes were answered the call
  • 22 % of homes had an answering machine pick up
  • 66% Failure: no contact was made (no phone listed, system failure, disconnected fax, etc.)
This is very representative of what we typically see from a phone campaign. In this particular area, there are only 30-40 cell phones that have signed up in the opt-in service. Luckily in this situation, the phone campaign was followed the next day with a ground search, media blitz and high profile activities. It was followed further with multiple waves of door to door contact.

Many people no longer have land lines and depend solely on cell phones or IP (internet based services) phones. Emergency services depend on people with these phones to sign their phones up in order to get the message. People can even sign up other numbers so they get the message at their  other homes (vacation condo perhaps) or for other family members who support each other (kids taking care of their elderly parents).
Several launches of the phone alerts over the 2012 fire season revealed very similar numbers. Please. Please. Please. Sign up and spread the word!

It is up to you!
Sign up HERE! to get  emergency alerts in La Plata County on your cell phone and internet based home phones. This includes Durango, Ignacio and Bayfield too. It's free and secure.


  1. I have been signed up for emergency messages since last summer, but I don't remember receiving this call in November. I live in Forest Lakes, and it seems that I should have been alerted. Just thought you should know.

  2. The alerting we created during that event was limited to north of Vallecito Reservoir and would not have included Forest Lakes.

  3. Great info...valuable for me..thanks for sharing..it..emergency management.