Henrico to test Community Alert System June 4

Henrico County will test its community alert system Tuesday, June 4, by sending a message to nearly 157,000 landline phones and to more than 3,500 email addresses and wireless devices that are registered with the system.

The test of the Community Emergency Notification System is planned ahead of the 2013 hurricane season and is expected to have minimal impact on residents and businesses. They will not need to answer the calls or respond to the messages that are left on their answering machines or received as emails or text alerts.

The test will begin about 9 a.m. and conclude by 4 p.m. on June 4. The test will resume about 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 5 if more time to complete the calls is needed.

“The Community Emergency Notification System is a valuable tool that Henrico uses to keep its residents, business owners and others informed during a localized or countywide emergency,” Fire Chief Anthony E. McDowell said. “The upcoming test will ensure the system is operating at maximum efficiency when it is needed.”

During the test, Henrico and its system partners will assess the local telephone network’s ability to handle a large number of calls, similar to the volumes that would occur during a hurricane or other emergency. Officials then will set the system to send out the maximum number of calls per hour without overloading the telephone network. This will reduce the likelihood that calls or messages will be dropped or blocked during an emergency.

Launched in 2012, the Community Emergency Notification System gives designated Henrico emergency personnel the flexibility to send messages countywide or to a selected geography. The system is overseen by the Division of Fire and powered by CodeRED, a high-speed, mass notification system.

Residents and businesses are already equipped to receive voice messages on their landline phones because the community alert system uses Henrico’s 911 system in reverse. However, individuals must register if they would like to receive messages on their wireless phones, computers and other mobile devices. To sign up, go to www.HenricoAlert.org. There is no cost to register. Standard messaging fees may apply.

For information on the community alert system, call (804) 501-4900 or go to www.co.henrico.va.us/fire.