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It is estimated that lightning strikes the United States 40 million times per year. However, lightning causes only about 15 recorded deaths each year.

In 2011 calendar year, there were a total of 1,927 reported emer- gency management incidents in the state, according to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. Of those 1,927 incidents; 765 were hazardous material related; 150 were miscellaneous impact; 324 were natural disasters; and 688 were other incidents.

Arkansas Counties using Communications evolving for emergencies, other information dissemination

ByEthan Nobles For County Lines

tant announcements. So far, 12 Arkansas counties, 11 cities and the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives have signed up for the CodeRED service. CodeRED is offered as two distinct products: CodeRED which provides geogra- phy based notification for clients (no weather component), and Co- deRED Weather Warning, which are the automated severe weather warnings. Some clients have just CodeRED, but several, especially in storm prone states, elect to use both for critical communications. So far, CodeRED’s customers in Arkansas have been happy with


the product. “It’s been a very good investment,” said Saline County Judge Lanny Fite. Fite said Saline County officials first looked at CodeRED 10

years ago and weren’t overly impressed with what they saw. Last year, however, Fite said the county signed up for both the primary CodeRED product and the weather warning system at a cost of $32,000 a year. “Te technology 10 years ago wasn’t what it is today,” Fite said. “Of all the things we have done – sirens, weather radios – I believe this is the best thing.” Fite said the beauty of CodeRED is that it uses a polygonal map- ping system to dispatch warnings to people. Anyone who has seen a televised storm warning system should be familiar with that tech-


or the past decade and a half, Florida-based Emergency Communications Network has developed its CodeRED warning network as a product that will both warn people of impending natural disasters and get them other impor-

nology. Te National Weather Service uses it to show the projected path of a storm and CodeRED monitors warnings generated by the services. Fite said weather warnings are generated by CodeRED and only

citizens with the polygon are warned. Fite said, for example, people living in Benton won’t be warned of a tornado that could hit people living in another part of Saline County. Tat system is distinctly different from the federal information

processing standard (FIPS) codes used to activate tornado sirens. Un- der that system, all citizens in the county are warned if there is a storm regardless of whether they are in the path of it or not. In other words, the county can’t be selective of which tornado sirens to activate – if one sounds, they all sound and that means those warnings may or may not be relevant. Also, Fite said a system of tornado sirens is ex- pensive to put in place and maintain. Tose FIPS codes are also a problem for weather radios. Fite said

Saline County has purchased 10,000 of those during the past decade – at a cost of $22 to $27 per unit – to give to people that may not live near a tornado siren. Fite said he’s learned that people were shutting off those radios be- cause they were tired of getting warnings frequently during certain times of the year such as the spring when tornados tend to form in the Natural State. Fite said CodeRED has the potential to replace tornado sirens completely within the next decade. He said county residents can choose to receive phone calls on landlines or cell phones when they are in the path of a storm. He pointed out that people can also opt to receive text messages if they choose. Fite said the fact CodeRED can


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