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Chelmsford Police Happy for CodeRED

July 18, 2008

By John Collins, The Sun, Lowell, Mass.

Jul. 18–CHELMSFORD — Police Chief James Murphy said $15,000 a year is a fair price to pay for “CodeRED.”

And no, he’s not referring to cherry-flavored soft drink, Mountain Dew Code Red.

Murphy announced yesterday the town has implemented a new, “ultra, high-speed telephone communication system” that enables police to speed-dial — at the rate of 1,000 calls per minute — Chelmsford residents and business owners to deliver recorded messages about specific emergencies.

“Obviously, I’m hoping not to use it,” Murphy said, “but it’s nice to know it’s there in urgent situations where information has to get to many people, quickly.”

The technology, supplied by Emergency Communications Network of Ormond Beach, Fla., was a dramatic improvement on the department’s previous emergency-calling system.

“We had an old-style auto-dialer for 12 years that we used several times, but to make 200 calls took about four hours,” Murphy said.

With the capabilities of the new, high-speed CodeRED technology, police can speed-dial all 13,000 phone numbers in the town’s database in less than 13 minutes, according to Murphy. But it’s more likely, the chief predicted, the police will use the system to contact a limited number of people who are located in the immediate vicinity of an emergency situation. He offered the rollover of a medical supplies truck, which occurred last year near Freeman Lake off Route 3, as an example.

“Some medical boxes from the truck went into a

stream in the area (although it turned out no contamination occurred), and we were flooded with calls to the dispatch center, which ties up our emergency lines and personnel,” Murphy explained. “Certainly, that’s a case where a (recorded) message sent to that area, in a one- or two-mile radius, informing people about what’s happened and warning them not to venture out near the scene, would have been very useful.”

In signing up for the $15,000 a year CodeRED service, Chelmsford joined a growing list of cities and towns that subscribe to the technology, which Murphy said also is marketed as a “Reverse 9-1-1″ system by a different vendor.

Murphy tested the new emergency messaging system by defining a subset of his police officers’ phone numbers, in case a situation arises that requires all-hands-on-deck.

To ensure the police department’s established emergency phone number database is current and correct, Murphy urged all Chelmsford residents and business owners to update their contact numbers on the residential/business update page (RDUP) via the town’s Web site: www.townofchelmsford.us.

For those without Internet service, forms are available at the police station, located at 2 Olde North Road.

More information about the CodeRED system can be found on the company’s Web site, www.coderedweb.net.

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