REVERSE PHONE NOTIFICATION for HERRIMAN WILDFIRE
September 21, 2010 – 3:30PM
During the Herriman (aka Machine Gun) wildfire that began on September 19th, VECC (Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communications Center) was asked by the Salt Lake County Emergency Management to send out a reverse phone notification.
There are multiple vendors that offer reverse phone notifications systems. The vendor that VECC uses is Plant/CML, (DCC) formerly Dialogic Communications Corporation.) Often you will hear this notification referred to as reverse 911, that is inaccurate as Reverse 911 is an actual company name.
There were two reverse notifications sent out by VECC. The first one, sent out at 5:50PM, was for the initial area identified for evacuation. The second one, sent out at about 8:10PM, was for the additional area identified for evacuation. To VECC’s knowledge no other reverse notification systems were utilized.
Plant/CML’s (DCC) mass call system can make 500 calls per minute. For this particular activation two attempts (three minutes apart) were made to each number. The phone numbers that are a part of the basic file are hard phone lines. Recognizing that citizens may or may not have hard phone lines, we have provided a way for them to register cell and/or VOIP phone numbers via our webpage (www.vecc9-1-1.com).
We encourage citizens who live in the areas we serve (South of 2100 South to the Point of the Mountain & east of the Tooele County border to Parley’s Summit as a rough east borderline to include Emigration Canyon) to go to our website to register their cell and/or VOIP phone lines, even if they have a hard line phone, by accessing the link on the VECC webpage. We also commend the citizens who have taken advantage of this service to help them be informed in the event of an emergency.
Concerns have been expressed that approximately only 60% of the residents within the evacuation areas received the phone notification. This figure is based on a report from DCC. However, that report must be interpreted to have an actual picture of the success of the notification. From the report we know that a minimum of 60% of the calls were successful – many of the remaining 40% were also successful but from the manner in which the data is compiled by the system, it is impossible to state an exact number.
Things that will lead to an unsuccessful call: 1- No answer of any kind; 2- Disconnected phone numbers still in the phone company database; 3- Message intercepts (i.e. resident has changed their number for whatever reason & there is a phone company message that give an automatic new phone number); 4- Busy phone line (someone actually using their phone at the time of the call); and 5- Because the message is recorded, some people who answered the phone hung up without listening to the message.
Additionally, we have been told that some people choose to block long-distance area codes. This is problematic because the calls are currently generated at the site of the vendor (which is outside the 801 area code) so the calls displayed a 615 area code. Calls may also appear to come from the area code 000.
VECC encourages everyone to register their cell and/or VOIP phone numbers through the VECC website. Additionally, we will have a booth with people that will help citizens register their cell and/or VOIP phone numbers at the Emergency Preparedness Fair this Saturday (9/25) from 11AM – 3PM at the SLCo EOC 3380 S 900 W . Additional information regarding that event may be found on the Salt Lake County Emergency Management website: ww.slcoem.org.
Attached you will find a copy of the text of the reverse notification phone messages, as well as, a copy of the instructions to register cell and/or VOIP phone numbers found on our website.