HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio -- Hamilton County's emergency communications system got a big upgrade that officials say will help you, and them, in emergencies and disasters.
With both, the promise is you give a little and get a lot.
Alert Hamilton County is a notification and warning system that can tell people about emergencies via text message or email. The system has 42 different alerts available, including weather and civil emergencies. A few are available as a voice call.
"In times of emergency, seconds count," Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune said. "So the more information that you get, the more prepared that you are, the more we're able to help you help yourselves, the better off everyone will be and the more safe our county will be."
Registration is available at www.alerthc.org. Nick Crosley, county director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, wants residents and businesses to have options "from A to Z."
"Whether you sign up for our social media, you activate your smartphone to receive wireless emergency alerts or if you have a landline, then if there is a serious emergency affecting residents or businesses in Hamilton County, then we'll be able to notify people," Crosley said.
The county also unveiled its new Smart911 system Monday. When users register at www.alerthc.org, they can share key information about members of their household -- such as people, pictures, pets or medical conditions. Dispatchers will have access to that information when the user calls 911.
It can be invaluable for a family whose child has autism, for example, when lights and sirens might be upsetting. People who have special needs are a target audience for the service.
"So in times when you're unable to speak for yourself or someone is trying to speak for you, you can register your information and when we receive a 911 call with a registered phone number, the information will populate at the 911 operator's position and we'll be able to relay that to the police and fire personnel," said Andy Knapp, the county's communications director.
Smart911 is a nationwide system, and the county said people should know the information they share is private and secure.
Alert Hamilton County costs about $50,000 a year. The Smart911 component is about $29,000 a year.
Portune said the county continues to grapple with paying for emergency communications but is committed to "the best type of emergency alerts, emergency warnings and emergency communication systems that we can provide."