Emergency alert system to roll out next week

An emergency alert system will be rolling out to county residents next week, according to the Department of Public Safety.

The new system will go public on Feb. 21, but county residents may begin registration now, said John Yingling, director of the Department of Public Safety, during the commissioners meeting Thursday morning.

Swift Reach is a high-speed emergency notification system that will send out pre-recorded messages and deliver them through telephone, cellphone, email or text message.

The alerts will be used to rapidly notify residents about local disasters or emergency situations, Yingling said. Nearly 28,000 county residents and businesses are already in the system, he added; however, those are primarily landlines.

Those with no landline or who would like to get messages sent to their cellphone or email will need to opt into the service, which is free, Yingling said.

To opt in, people may either visit the county website or text SWIFT911 to 99538.

Eventually, the system could be used for other non-emergency alerts, such as polling location changes.

The next commissioners meeting will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday.