FORT WRIGHT, Ky. — When an explosion triggered a shelter-in-place order for residents near a Northern Kentucky chemical facility, Kenton County officials were able to notify thousands using the CodeRED system.
Covington and Fort Wright fire crews were dispatched to Interplastic Corporation on Latonia Avenue following an explosion just after 8 p.m. Monday. Those living nearby heard a boom, with surveillance footage from nearby homes capturing a white ball shooting into the sky.
"It shook the house pretty good, windows started rattling," resident Jonathan Garrett said. "It sounded so loud and it was right there next to my ear."
Within minutes, fire officials alerted the Kenton County Emergency Communications Center to send out a shelter-in-place notification using CodeRED. Anyone living within one mile of the site who had signed up through the county's homeland security emergency management received notice.
"It was pretty shocking to get a message to shelter in place didn't know what what chemicals was letting off so all the windows was closed didn't nobody go outside open the doors but stayed where we were at," neighbor Charles Cooper said.
The alerts can be used for severe weather, chemical spills, traffic situations, evacuation notices or Amber Alerts. People who sign up for the system can receive notifications through e-mail, phone calls or text messages.
Covington Fire Chief Mark Pierce said the CodeRED service is critical for first responders.
"It's huge," Pierce said. "In the past, notifications like this would've had to have been made door-to-door. That takes people, and it takes time."
Pierce said time is everything when it comes to emergency situations.
"They can do that — that saves us, that saves manpower," Pierce said. "Trying to cover one mile radius, we don't have the people to do that. This way it allows us to take care of the incident we're on, and also notify people at the same time."
Pierce said it is important to make sure everyone's address is updated in the system to ensure people receive the right notifications. People are encouraged to check with their local community to see what emergency system they use. To sign up for Kenton County's CodeRED, click here.