Reverse 911 system passes first live test |

Reverse 911 system passes first live test

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Residents of Shield O Mesa and along Snowmass Creek Road answered the call ” literally ” yesterday to evacuate their homes.

Pitkin County employed the Emergency Phone Network, dubbed “reverse 911,” to direct residents in the line of fire to leave the area.

It was the first for-real launch of the system, in which a recorded message can be sent to multiple phone numbers in the event of an emergency, according to Mark Gamrat, communications director for the Aspen-Pitkin County Communication Center.

“I launched it twice. The reports I got back were, yes, people did answer the phone,” he said.

Gamrat said a recorded message ordering a mandatory evacuation went out to homes in the Shield O Mesa subdivision and to residences within a one-mile radius of Mile Marker 9 on Snowmass Creek Road.

In all, the message was sent to 144 phone numbers, but that doesn’t mean it went to 144 residences. Any home with multiple phone lines, for example, would have received the warning multiple times. Fax numbers in the region would also have been dialed.

The message was launched at about 12:30 p.m. and again about 30 minutes later, Gamrat said.

The system gives him a report back on how many of messages went into an answering machine, weren’t delivered or were received by someone actually picking up the phone.

Gamrat said he didn’t have that breakdown available, but that some residents did pick up their phone and heard the recording.

“We did get at least one person call in and say, ‘Yes, we did get the message,'” he said.

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