St. Mary's County Government Will Be Calling You on Thursday

LEONARDTOWN, Md. - If you live in St. Mary's County, chances are the St. Mary's County Government will be calling you on Thursday evening. The Board of County Commissioners announced yesterday that they will conduct the annual test of the County’s CodeRED Emergency Notification System on Thursday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m.

CodeRED is a high speed telephone calling system capable of delivering customized pre-recorded emergency messages directly to homes and businesses, live individuals and answering machines, at the rate of up to 60,000 calls per hour. CodeRED is a commercial service provided by Emergency Communications Network, Inc. of Ormond Beach, Florida. The county government contracts for the service.

According to the local officials, this test will be used to better prepare emergency responders prior to emergency response efforts. During an actual emergency, the system will be deployed to warn and advise residents of emergencies by calling phone numbers registered with 9-1-1, emergency services. If you would like to register an additional phone number (mobile or work) to be called during emergencies at or near your home address, visit the emergency notification website at:

According to David Zylak, Director of Public Safety for St. Mary's County, CodeRED is just one more tool the county employs to get the word out in case of emergencies. The county recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with 95.9 WGRQ, out of Fredericksburg, Va., to provide informational radio broadcasts during time of emergency. According to Zylak, the county does not provide any funds to WGRQ in exchange for the service.

The WGRQ signal does not provide good coverage in the southern part of St. Mary's County. To resolve that problem, Zylak said he is working to establish an MOU with a second station on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. "We are checking out all avenues to get the message out," said Zylak.

Southern Maryland's local radio stations reportedly do not have emergency power backup and can not be relied upon in the case of a power outage. Somar Communications, Inc., of Mechanicsville, which owns and operates Southern Maryland area Stations 98.3 FM WSMD; 97.7 FM WMDM, 102.9 WKIK, 1560 AM , and 1690 AM WPTX, reportedly has acquired an emergency power generator to solve the problem. Our call to Somar Communication to ascertain the status of the generator installation was not returned in time for publication.

According to Zylak, the county provided no funds to Somar Communications, Inc. for the procurement of a backup power solution.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires radio broadcasters to provide a certain level of public service in exchange for being awarded a license to broadcast. FCC spokesmen were unable to tell us, in time for publication, if a broadcaster could be compelled, under the terms of their license, to provide emergency power backup in order to broadcast local emergency information.

Editor's Notes:

GET A CHEAP PHONE FOR EMERGENCIES: In the event of power loss, the telephone service will still operate, assuming the line has not been cut.  However, any modern telephone which requires electricity to operate, such as wireless phones, will not function. You can purchase an inexpensive, hard-wired telephone at most department stores for less than $10.

GET A BATTERY OPERATED RADIO, WRITE THE EMERGENCY CHANNEL FREQS ON THE RADIO: It is important to have an AM/FM radio on hand that will operate for an extended period on batteries.  Write the frequencies of the emergency channels on the radio so you know what they are when the time comes.


CodeRED, Rapid Emergency Communication Service

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