By Rick Sallinger

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Some communities west of the Denver metro area are getting a new emergency notification system. All of Jefferson County, along with Broomfield and Westminster, will share “LookoutAlert.”

(credit: Getty Images)

It will be used for anything from fires to floods, to danger in the neighborhood. Reverse 911-type notifications have come a long way since the Lower North Fork Fire ravaged Jefferson County 10 years ago. Three people died in that fire from a prescribed burn. There were problems with emergency notifications.
Now, beneath Lookout Mountain, first responders gathered as the newest generation of alert notifications was announced.

“While the fire season may seem like it’s just around the corner it is here all the time,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader.

More than 30 public safety agencies will collaborate on the system. It also sends alerts based on a cell phone’s location as well as through an “opt-in” system using a person’s home address.

“There have already been too many tragedies, not too terribly far away, where we need to stress the importance of making sure that people take care of themselves, that they ‘lookout’ just as our predecessors in the area, the Ute Indians did,” said Shrader. “With all emergency agencies in Jefferson County, Broomfield, and Westminster using the same notification system, we are able to expedite public safety messages across multiple jurisdictions. This consistency enhances residents’ awareness and their ability to respond appropriately.”

(credit CBS)

The notifications can be sent from three dispatch centers, among them Jeffco911.

“These are the agents out in the field letting us know what is going on in the call,” explained Melisa Ketchem, a supervisor.

First responders can request an emergency notification of any size.

“With this address, we are able to draw a box with a three-block radius to capture just the people in that box,” said Ketchem.

“Lookout Alert” replaces the previous system called “Code Red.” More detailed information can be entered ahead of time to first responders. That information can include all who live there, medical conditions, any pets present, even their names.

Mike Brewer, the deputy director at Jeffco911 told CBS4, “If they were previously signed up for Code Red system that has been successfully transitioned over
and that information will be used to send out alerting information.”

Cellphone numbers should be added to the system if not already there.

According to Jefferson County, Dispatch centers and public safety agencies use LookoutAlert to quickly notify people within a specific geographic area that may be affected by a large scale disaster, evacuation or shelter-in-place orders, certain law enforcement activities such as searches for missing children or dangerous subjects, and other incidents that require immediate public awareness. LookoutAlert allows residents to receive these types of notifications – or alerts – via text, email, and/or voice message. Residents may register for LookoutAlert at LookoutAlert.co.

“It is important to register for emergency alerts in your area. LookoutAlert could be the quickest way to receive accurate information and instructions for a variety of emergencies that may affect where you live or work, or another location that you frequent. Emergency notifications are sent directly from 9-1-1 centers to affected residents, if the resident is registered to receive them,” said Executive Director of the Jefferson County Communications Center Authority Jeff Streeter, in a statement.

(credit: West Metro Fire)

The need for upgraded emergency notification systems was amplified following the Marshall Fire that destroyed or damaged more than 1,000 homes in Boulder County last December. Many residents said they were notified too late or not at all. The City of Boulder upgraded its emergency alert system earlier this year.

Rick Sallinger