If there is an emergency lockdown or evacuation of some sort in Carpentersville, first responders must now go door-to-door to notify the affected people.
But by next spring, all of that is expected to change, once the village joins Kane County's CodeRed program, an emergency notification system that can call 50,000 people in an hour.
The program works like this: Let's say there's a chemical spill in Carpentersville that requires people to leave their homes.
Fire Chief John Schuldt could record a message into the system that orders people to leave and gives other relevant instructions.
Schuldt then would program the message so it goes to a certain part of town. Once he activates the message, the system would start calling people and playing Schuldt's message.
"It's only as good as the information that's put in," Schuldt said.
The system would have come in handy over the summer, when three elementary schools were placed on a soft lockdown after a man wanted on a warrant escaped from police.
" ... In a situation like that ... we could use CodeRed to notify the residents that we want them to report any suspicious activity," Police Chief Al Popp said.
The system has been in place countywide since 2006, said Don Bryant, director of Kane County's Office of Emergency Management.
The fire chief, police chief, village president and village manager are the only ones who will have access to the Carpentersville part of the system.
It won't cost Carpentersville a dime to join because the county pays for the program through its public safety special usage tax, Bryant said.
The last time county authorities used the CodeRed system in northern Kane County was two years ago, when there was extensive flooding in South Elgin, he added.
Carpentersville plans to kick off a campaign this winter that lets residents know the system exists and encourages them to register. Authorities hope to start using it by the spring.
The system already has 158,453 phone numbers listed across the county -- on average, 30 new phone numbers are added each month. To get alerts from the county and Carpentersville, register your phone number at www.kcoem.org