BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- Brunswick County emergency services has gone the extra mile to keep their residents safe. Two years ago they purchased the FirstCall interactive network. This system, based out of Louisiana, takes the phone numbers of all the residents in Brunswick County and puts them in a database. During dangerous situations, it can call the numbers and notify them of the situation. During an event like a fire, a chemical spill, severe weather or a missing person, Brunswick County emergency services has the option of activating the FirstCall interactive network. It is essentially a reverse 911 system that has the ability to call anyone being affected by the situation. Scott Garner of Brunswick County Emergency Services said, "It can be used for any type of law enforcement event, if you needed to tell people to get out. Hazardous material: that is probably where it would be used the quickest or would be the most effective." Most recently FirstCall was used during a large smoke-out condition in the Longwood area. In this situation, the service helped notify the residents in that area of the smoky conditions and then warned them to either stay at their home or travel very cautiously. The service can also come in handy during some types of severe weather. "Events that are not fast-breaking, maybe flooding that is expected, other types of events that we can expect but have planning time," Garner said. With faster-moving severe weather like thunderstorms and tornadoes, the best way to stay informed is a NOAA weather radio. They will alert you of severe weather warnings from the local national weather service 24 hours a day. But during hurricane season, FirstCall could really come in handy. "Notify them, the residents, when voluntary evacuations are put in place, when mandatory evacuations will be put in place, possible flooding conditions, when roads may be out of service because of flooding over them," Garner said. And the county feels that this service is well worth the cost. "It's money well-spent, because anytime we can inform the public of a dangerous situation or in the future maybe a potential of needing to do an evacuation for a hazardous conditions and we can do it quickly and efficiently through this FirstCall network," Garner said. Emergency services says that the response they have gotten back on FirstCall has been great. People have been very appreciative of the information that can be given during the short phone call. This informative service is available to all residents in Brunswick County. If you have an unlisted phone number or a cell phone and live in Brunswick County, you can sign up as well. Visit www.FirstCall.net.
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