Presidio County adopts reverse 911 service

After years in the works, Presidio County has adopted a reverse 911 service

PRESIDIO — The use of reverse 911 is becoming more common across Texas counties, and as announced on May 13th via a press release, Presidio County will be adopting its own version of it too. This is a service that was years in the making and thought to be long overdue.

Cinderela Guevara, Presidio County judge, said that she had been trying to get some version of reverse 911 integrated into the county’s emergency protocol since she took office in 2015. When asked why, she said she felt it is needed as a tool to help communicate emergencies to the public in an efficient manner.

“It’s a good way to alert everybody if there are any calamities or disasters; we can tell anybody where to go or what to do in all kinds of situations,” said Guevara.

Guevara pointed out specific situations where it could be helpful such as during a wildfire or if the water were to become contaminated. She emphasized that in these specific situations when everyone in an area is potentially at risk, it is important to be able to mobilize information in a quick manner.

Guevara said that she had been testing a number of potential emergency notifications systems before making a decision. The reverse 911 service that Guevara and the county decided to select was Hyper-Reach, which is the same emergency notification system that is used by neighboring Brewster County.

Guevara said that ultimately the reason Hyper-Reach was chosen boiled down to the fact that it is user-friendly and affordable. Hyper-Reach is also bilingual, which Guevara emphasized is a necessity.

“We would not invest any type of money into something that was not bilingual because it’s needed here, and I don’t think it would have been taxpayer money well spent if it were not bilingual,” said Guevara.

She also pointed out that another reason they wanted to go with Hyper-Reach is because of how easy it is to use and sign up for. Guevara stated that it only takes about five minutes to sign up for the service.

Presidio County Emergency Management Coordinator Gary Mitschke, who played a big role in getting the service for Presidio County, said, “We realized that everyone else had one and we didn’t, and so we have been working for a few years to find the right vendor for our needs.”

Mitschke also expressed that he felt, up to this point, that the emergency notification system that Presidio County was working with was not as good as he would have liked it to have been. This was another reason why he and Guevara felt the need to implement a system.

Mitschke also mentioned that Hyper-Reach comes with an Integrated Public Alert Warnings system, which doesn’t work through individual phone numbers. Instead, it is projected through the cell towers, thus letting it reach more people.

Mitschke said an option like this is important because when there are people coming from out of town that haven’t signed up for the service, this assures that they will still be able to be notified in the case of an emergency.

Additionally, Mitschke emphasized the importance of signing up for the service, saying that the whole process is predicated upon the core idea that in the event of an emergency, people need to be alerted. Given that, he says that the more people that are signed up for the service, the better job it does at protecting people.

Presidio County plans to use the service primarily for alerts about weather, environmental hazards, criminal activity and missing persons. Mitschke stated that all landlines will automatically be enrolled for community and weather alerts, however, mobile phone alerts will only be available if an individual signs up for them.

There are multiple ways to sign up for alerts including calling or texting “Alert” to (432) 216-2328, going to the Hyper-Reach website as well as downloading the Hyper-Reach Anywhere App, which is free of charge.

Mitschke said, “The decision to sign up could potentially be a matter of life or death, and so we want as many people to sign up as possible so the service can work better.”