The city of Staunton is launching a new tool to help neighbors and rescue crews during an emergency. The Everbridge notification system sends out automatic alerts for a number of dangerous situations.
In less than five minutes, the new system can get emergency information to all of Staunton's 10,000 households. It can target just the people who need it, and find them wherever they are.
The system can target streets or neighborhoods that are directly affected by slick roads, power outages, escaped prisoners, or hazardous materials spills. It can also give details about an evacuation and confirm that the message has been received.
The new alert system can work like a 911 call in reverse by sending a recorded message to a land line phone. But Chief Scott Garber of Staunton Emergency Services explains that that's just the beginning.
"You can have multiple cellphones, text messaging, email, and then you prioritize them how you want to be notified. Such as, if you want to get a text message first and then an email second and phone call third, you can actually prioritize it how you want that information to come to you," Garber said.
Users can also sign up for alerts about street closures, meeting cancellations and other non-emergency information.
The notification system will cost the city of Staunton about $10,000 per year.
Emergency alerts will go only to residents' land line phones unless they sign up for other types of communication or for non-emergency messages.