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Village to Test Emergency Telephone Alert System

During an emergency, the system can call 60,000 phone numbers per hour. Is your number on the list?

A savage storm. An imminent flood. Widespresd power outages.

These are the types of scenarios the Village of Wilmette aims to prepare for when the police department tests out its CodeRED Emergency Telephone Notification System Tuesday morning.

At approximately 10:30 a.m., as alert sirens blare throughout the village, Wilmette residents and business owners should expect a call from a toll-free number with an 866 area code. During an event when the system is actually needed, such a call would warn of a potential threat or a situation requiring immediate action.

“This test will allow us to gauge the effectiveness of the system,” said Wilmette Village Manager Timothy J. Frenzer.

According to the village, the alert system, which is capable of dialing 60,000 phone numbers per hour, could be used in the event of a flood or snow emergency, gas leak, severe storm, amber alert, evacuation notice, water contamination or “other emergency incidents where rapid and accurate notification is essential for public safety.”

Not all Wilmette phone numbers are in the system, though, and some residents may have to act in order to be added before Tuesday’s test. While the system’s database automatically includes listed Wilmette numbers, residents and business owners with unlisted numbers, cell phones, cable-based telephone service or voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone need to register to receive an emergency alert call.

Wilmette Village President Chris Canning encouraged locals to sign up now, saying that during past situations when the emergency system was used, the database was found to contain fewer telephone numbers than desired.

“After, I believe it was the 2008 storm, we found out that Wilmette’s numbers were well below other communities in terms of responsiveness to the CodeRED program,” Canning said at Tuesday’s village board meeting. “So we want to make sure that they money we’re putting out for code red is being well spent and that we are getting as many responses as possible. So please, if you see that, take advantage of it.”

Tuesday’s test will also serve to eliminate out-of-use telephone numbers from the emergency system’s database. Wilmette’s emergency telephone alert system has been operational since 2006.

Tuesday’s call will come from 866-419-5000. Locals can expect to hear a recorded message detailing information about the notification system. If the emergency phone number is called back, the message will be replayed.

Those looking to add their phone number to the notification database can do so through the village website.

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