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Fire Chief: Code Red saved lives

The new Code Red emergency notification system worked well last weekend, fire chief John Payne said. He said it gave those signed up ample time to seek shelter or to avoid the path of the oncoming tornado.

If programmed to send the message to your cell phone, the warning could save your life in situations where you might not normally hear a tornado siren if the area even has one.

Anyone signed up for Maumelle’s Code Red would have gotten the message on their cell phone if they had it while in Mayflower or even Little Rock last Sunday, Payne said.

While most Maumelle residents are already enrolled in the Code Red program, Payne said everyone needs to take advantage of the program. He said a link to the Code Red web site can be found on the city’s web page.

There was one glitch last Sunday Payne said. A notice of recall for all off duty firefighters to report back to Maumelle fire stations was mistakenly broadcast to all those signed up, not just firefighters.

The message asked the firefighters to bring any extra chain saws and similar equipment that could be used to rescue trapped victims of the storm.

Both Maumelle fire stations had a parking lot full of residents with chain saws and rescue equipment and they kept coming for an hour and a half, even though the message went out around 9 p.m.

“What a testimony to the people of Maumelle who care about their neighbors outside the city and were willing to volunteer to act,” Chief Payne said.

He also said most volunteers were sent home because of the danger of down power lines, broken gas lines and scattered debris.

A mistake by a dispatcher resulted in the message having a wider distribution than planned, he said.

— Bill Lawson

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