Wexford County, Michigan, is home to nearly 34,000 residents and a summer travel destination for many visitors.
Advancing Critical Communications for a Safer Community
sent from anywhere
vs. hours with faster, efficient emergency notifications
of communications, replacing outdated tornado sirens
Wexford County’s Emergency Management Director, Travis Baker, needed a solution to get information out to residents in real time, before, during and after an emergency or event. Radio, news and tornado sirens were the only way to alert the community to potentially dangerous situations when Baker took over the role in 2019.
Radio and door-to-door communications about severe weather and evacuations have particular limitations, reaching only residents listening to the radio or who happen to be at home. Time-consuming in-person notifications also placed a heavy burden on Baker’s staff resources. Baker needed a communications system that could get the word out quicker, to anyone, anywhere. Additionally, Baker knew that critical information wasn’t just limited to tornadoes—events such as road closures and power outages were vital information that the community needed to stay safe and informed. He was looking for an accurate, more seamless way to communicate quickly with residents and visitors, including having visibility into whether the information was received.
Before looking for a solution, Baker created a social media account to alert residents of accidents and power outages but was concerned that the community wasn’t seeing his updates. This also took time away from managing other emergencies and mitigating the risks themselves. Finding a solution that allowed him to quickly send a message through multiple modalities, including social media, and have instant visibility into which residents received the message, was critical.
While discussing communication strategies with nearby counties, Baker discovered that many communities were already using an emergency alert system that was easy to implement and use - OnSolve® CodeRED®.
Baker originally began looking for a solution after he was told it would cost thousands of dollars to get the tornado sirens up and running. Since tornado sirens would only reach less than 20% of the population, Baker knew there was a better way to stay in contact with the entire county.
Wexford County chose CodeRED to help them build out their emergency communications strategy. He didn’t realize how easy it would be to integrate an alerting system into his community to improve crisis communications beyond just tornado and air raid warnings. With CodeRED, Wexford County was able to expand their community outreach with:
- Accelerated delivery of alerts to residents, saving time and valuable manpower by eliminating reliance on door-to-door notifications
- Precise geo-targeted alerts to warn individuals in affected areas so they are able to take action and make informed decisions
- Automated weather alerts that can be delivered in real-time to the community
- Confirm communications with residents, providing residents with the ability to confirm receipt of an alert and for Baker to track the alert's reach
With CodeRED, Wexford County’s emergency management team can provide the community with real-time information about critical events that help keep them informed and safe. Travis Baker, Emergency Management Director, highlights other values from the system, including:
- Peace of mind knowing alerts go out quickly and to the entire community
- Flexibility to send an alert from anywhere via a mobile app
- A confident, more informed community
- A sustainable, more mature emergency management program to better manage physical threats and risk complexities
- Newfound trust in his emergency communications strategy
- Ability to audit and improve future crisis response outreach
“The feature we’ve benefitted from the most is the ability to send an alert from anywhere, even if I just have my phone,” explained Baker.