By: Julia Deng
GAINES COUNTY - Emergency weather and crime alerts issued through CodeRED reach only a fraction of Gaines County residents, according to results from a Monday afternoon drill.
Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Barrett said the county has used CodeRED, a notification system offered nationwide by Emergency Communications Network, for about six years.
He estimated they pay $4,000 to $4,500 for the service each year.
Residents can sign up, free of charge, to receive phone, text message and email alerts about "anything from tornadoes and hurricanes to kidnappings and missing children."
"If everybody [in the county] was signed up, that'd be a fantastic deal," said Barrett. "But how do you get everybody to sign up? The government can't do it all for you. You have to have some individual responsibility."
Only 6,666 residents are currently registered to receive CodeRED notifications; Gaines County has a population of approximately 20,000.
According to Barrett, only 72 percent of of the 6,666 people on their contact list were reachable by phone - after two rounds of calls - when they tested the reach of their alerts on Monday afternoon.
"That's good," he told NewsWest 9. "That's really good and it's a higher number in the evening hours, when people are home. But we do need to get more people signed up."
Seminole resident Alex Arroyo called the service "unnecessary" and said he would not be registering to receive CodeRED notifications.
"I'm pretty sure family will call... if there's an emergency or something bad," he said.
Another Seminole resident, Dee Reed, said the notifications "are a great idea" but was not aware they were available through the county.
"Nobody has talked about CodeRED at all," she told NewsWest 9. "This is the first time [my friend and I] are hearing about it."
Emergency Management officials said residents can register for notifications through the county website: http://www.co.gaines.tx.us/default.aspx?Gaines_County/Emergency