Rapid Notify spread the word during ice storm
PETE FISHER Northumberland Today Tree limbs, such as this one in Port Hope, fell onto streets, lawns and houses as a result of the ice storm that struck Northumberland on the Dec. 22 weekend.
The December ice storm, with its resulting power outage, proved again the value of Port Hope's Rapid Notify system.
Director of fire and emergency services Rob Collins, who administers the program, explained that the software-based Rapid Notify service has a map component that allows messages to be targeted to a specific area or to the whole municipality. The software picks up all the numbers in the area selected and delivers telephone messages that offer updates on power restoration, information on warming systems and potable-water supply, and relevant safety messages.
During the course of the ice storm, communications co-ordinator Sandra Weeks reported, 11 Rapid Notify telephone messages were dispatched.
The municipality was considering the contingency of potential emergencies in its industrial facilities when it acquired Rapid Notify as an emergency-measures device, Collins said.
"It had all these features that we thought were great," he recalled.
It did prove to be an invaluable asset during the October 2011 water crisis, and has now proven itself again.
"We are still one of only 83 municipalities in Ontario using the system," Collins said.
Rapid Notify works smoothly with Bell numbers, Collins said, but is typically less efficient with other numbers (like Cogeco numbers) and cellphone numbers.
"After the water emergency, we worked with Rapid Notify, and they developed the registration module that allows anyone to register a land line, a cell number, an e-mail address — they are also working eventually toward text messaging," he added, though this particular service is not available at this time.
Any Port Hope resident who did not receive Rapid Notify updates during the power outages can register.
Just go online at www.porthopefire.ca under Quick Links. Or Collins added, call administrative assistant Kim Sleeman at 905-885-5323 and she will enter your information for you.