Ohio’s rural Scioto County is home to approximately 80,000 people. The County is located in southern Ohio, bordering Kentucky and part of Appalachia.
Modernizing Crisis Management and Emergency Notification with OnSolve CodeRED
keep the right people informed to avoid panic
ease burden on emergency management
for convenient alerting
Scioto is primarily a rural county with a varied topography and a deep history going all the way back to the early 1800s. Efforts to modernize and revitalize the county and county seat of Portsmouth are underway and began several years ago with a focus on emergency mass notification. Emergency officials wanted to leverage modern technology to more effectively reach everyone with critical public alerts.
Larry Mullins became the Emergency Management Director of Scioto County at the onset of COVID. It was immediately clear that identifying a reliable emergency notification system to handle all public alerting was a top priority. The county needed a solution with an intuitive user experience, an easy enrollment process for residents, IPAWS and more, all within their limited budget.
Training and support were also a concern because most of the county’s officials had never previously used an emergency notification system.
From the very beginning, OnSolve worked with Scioto County Emergency Management to understand their needs. Mullins reflected, “I was impressed with how intuitive CodeRED was compared to the others. The CodeRED team was very professional. They were forthcoming and answered any questions my team and I came up with. We went with OnSolve CodeRED because the demo was so good.”
Scioto County implemented CodeRED at the start of the pandemic and has been using it successfully ever since. The ability of the platform to seamlessly integrate with the county’s 911 database has proven invaluable. This enabled about 60,000 people to begin receiving alerts without having to sign up or register with the county again. Mullins notes, “Now when we put out an alert, we’re reaching every phone that’s registered in our 911 zone.”
To encourage further enrollment, the free CodeRED marketing materials helped to quickly increase awareness of the system. “We gain more users every time we send an alert for an event. We’ve built a bridge with the public — CodeRED has really turned things around for us,” Mullins said.
The change has been especially effective for weather alerts. Through automation, CodeRED picks up alerts from the National Weather Service and sends them to affected areas of the county, removing the need for alerting officials to go through the process manually.
The county recently became IPAWS certified. Whereas officials in other counties have expressed how hard it is to send IPAWS alerts, the CodeRED IPAWS solution has made it a simple process for Scioto County. By utilizing the test environment in CodeRED, officials are able to increase their comfort level and stay current. And because they’ve already established trust with the public through CodeRED, they’re confident future IPAWS alerts will be heeded.
“CodeRED is a powerful tool,” said Mullins. “It’s really made my job as emergency manager easier, especially with public warnings and information. Now that we’re authorized with IPAWS, CodeRED makes that a breeze to use. I would highly recommend CodeRED for anyone that is looking for a mass emergency notification system.
Since implementation, CodeRED has delivered on its promises of rapid enrollment, simplified alerting, automation and exceptional customer service. It helps Mullins keep the community safe and informed during severe weather and man-made emergencies.
When two inmates escaped in Scioto County, the geo-targeting capability of CodeRED allowed Mullins to promptly notify residents in the vicinity. This helped to prevent widespread panic across the county, while prompting residents to practice awareness. As a result, many returned to their homes until the threat was resolved. Following recapture, the township trustees thanked Mullins and County Law Enforcement for the prompt use of CodeRED. This outcome was markedly different from a previous incident wherein a resident unknowingly encountered a group of escaped inmates while checking her mailbox at night.
CodeRED was also vital to keeping the public informed during a hazmat situation. Right before rush hour, one of Portsmouth’s two primary through-ways was shut down following a tractor trailer accident that resulted in a large fuel spill into a highway storm drain. Traffic was stopped in both directions for several miles. Officials were able to prevent further backup by sending an immediate alert, notifying commuters to use the other available highway.
With CodeRED, Scioto County has established a deeper level of public trust in the emergency management team and the alerting system, enabling the County to keep residents better informed, mitigate dangerous situations and prevent escalating damages. The combination of sophisticated automation with a simple user interface empowers public officials to proactively alert the community to dangerous conditions, while empowering residents to avoid harm’s way.