Pitkin County tests emergency notiﬁcation system
June 30, 2012
ASPEN – Test calls went to about 5,000 phone lines Friday in a check of Pitkin County’s emergency notification system, according to Mark Gamrat, county communications director.
Results should be available Monday, according to Gamrat. The testing included areas of Aspen’s West End, the Crystal Valley and Marble, the Fryingpan Valley, Missouri Heights, El Jebel and Woody Creek up to Lenado. In addition, all of Snowmass Village was tested at the request of the town’s fire chief, he said.
Overall, the county and areas beyond its borders such as Marble and parts of Eagle County contain about 18,500 phone lines.
Calls were placed at a rate of 200 per minute, a throttled-back pace requested by telephone service provider CenturyLink so as not to overwhelm the system, Gamrat said.
The test will cost $1,300; Snowmass Village is kicking in funds to cover the cost of testing the entire town, he said.
Households included in the test received a recorded message letting them know the call was only a test and that, in the event of a real emergency, further information would be provided.
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County officials began calling for a test of the system in April after a March wildfire destroyed more than two dozen homes in the mountains southwest of Denver. Some residents there complained they received no warning call, and glitches with the system were later reported.
After Thursday night’s lightning storm put residents of Aspen and the upper valley on edge, Friday’s test was all the more appropriate.
“Especially after last night, I think it’s a good thing,” Gamrat said Friday.
The phone notification system will only reach residents who have a traditional land-line telephone. Those who operate solely with cellphones are advised to sign up to receive alerts through the Pitkin Alert system, which sends updates in the form of emails, text messages to cellphones and pages to pagers. Go to http://www.pitkinalert.org to sign up. There’s no charge for the service.