By Barbie Porter
Code Red has been available to Becker County residents for years, and the Frazee City Council plans to make use of the notification system should any city-wide emergencies arise.
Craig Fontaine has led the Code Red Emergency Management System for the county. He attended the council meeting on Monday, Oct. 18 and dove into the finer details of the program. He explained the alerts can be targeted at a specific area in the county marked out by a bull’s-eye and a radius, city-wide or county-wide.
Fontaine recalled the history of how Code Red came to the county, noting the city of Detroit Lakes had an alert system years ago. The registration was low and the cost was high. The county began looking at options and found Code Red.
The Code Red system costs Becker County about $16,500 per year and there are about 15,500 currently signed up for notifications. With the county taking the burden of cost, it is a perk to all municipalities in its borders to make use of free of charge.
Fontaine said the system was used when there was a train derailment in Callaway. The community was provided an evacuation notice.
He noted there are options when signing up that include texts, emails or contact through a home phone. Fontaine recommended texts, then emails and as a last resort a home phone. He explained when people were called to evacuate in Callaway, those with a home phone did not receive the message it was safe to return. Those with access to texts or email through a mobile phone, received the message.
Fontaine added the alert system has also be used to aid in locating a missing person and to notify residents of severe weather.
If the city had an alert to be made, Fontaine said the council or appointed city official would need to contact county dispatch, which would relay the message through the Code Red system.
Fontaine reported the number of people currently signed up in Frazee the evening of the council meeting was 624.
To sign up for code red, go to the Becker County website, www.co.becker.mn.us. Scroll to the “Search” option and click on that. In the search tool bar type “Code Red” and click the submit button. Then click the Cod Red Emergency Notifications link. On the left hand side of the page there is a link to sign up for notifications.
Fontaine recommended to sign up as a guest. He said if one were to move from the area, getting off the list if not a guest may prove to be difficult. He also suggested those who signed up more than four years ago, sign up again as new options for alerts were added.
For those with Straight Talk phone service, the provider to enter is Verizon.
Councilman Mark Flemmer encouraged Frazee residents to sign up for the free service.
Otter Tail County uses an app for notifying residents of emergency situations. To register, go to www.ottertailcountymn.us and in the search bar type, “Smart911.” There is an ap store link where the ap can be downloaded.