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A missing child was found safe following an alert issued by the County’s mass notification system early Tuesday morning, an event which has also lead to a policy change for the system during overnight hours.
“We are happy to report that our system worked as it was supposed to, and the child in this instance was located,” Hall County Emergency Management Agency Director David Kimbrell said. “However, we are constantly evaluating how the notification system could be used more effectively in these types of situations and will now tailor its alerts to be received by those who are most likely to utilize them overnight.”
He said only those who have opted in to Hall County Citizen’s Alert System will receive notifications via text or email between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. when those alerts involve non-life threatening situations.
“That means citizens who were automatically subscribed to the system using the County’s 9-1-1 database of landlines will no longer be notified overnight unless the notification involves a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning or other life-threatening situation that would affect a large group of citizens,” Kimbrell said. “This way, those that are awake will receive the message via text or email without causing a disruption to those who are asleep during those hours.”
The policy change comes after the County received feedback that the non-life threatening overnight notifications via landline caused confusion for some residents.
“Our Citizen’s Alert System is meant to help keep our citizens safe,” said Assistant Hall County Administrator Marty Nix. “That’s why we want to continually evaluate our policies and improve our communications in an effort to provide the highest level of service to our residents.”
The Hall County Citizen’s Alert System, an online tool which notifies residents of a number of issues, including severe weather, fires, floods, toxic environmental issues and in-process violent crimes, was launched in February 2012. The system alerts residents through a variety of contact mechanisms, including cell phone, landline, email, text messaging, pager, and more, ensuring that important information is received within minutes—no matter the person’s location. In addition to being notified about emergencies, residents can also receive information about other important activities, such as road closures and water utility maintenance.
According to Hall County 9-1-1 Director Gail Lane, approximately 45,000 residents and/or businesses have been added to the system’s database.
“The ability to reach all residents quickly during an emergency in order to warn them and provide guidance is critical to upholding our commitment to protecting citizens from any danger that threatens our community,” said Lane.
Citizens can sign up to receive the mass notifications on their cell phone or via email, pager, etc. by going to alerts.hallcounty.org and clicking on the Citizen’s Alert System link. That’s also where residents can select what types of emergencies they want to be notified of and through what method of communication they’d like to receive those alerts. Residents who have signed up for the alerts can also opt out at any time online.