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Many of us today only use cell phones to communicate. These mobile devices enable us to stay in touch no matter where we are, making voice, text and email communication instantly accessible. We can also choose Internet-based systems for voice communication or VOIP. Cell and VOIP users often drop their land line phone service, so fewer people are using land based telephone connections.

Keep reading if you use a cell phone or VOIP — this message is for you.  It’s about the Douglas County Citizen Emergency Notification System. This is a tremendously valuable tool to quickly notify citizens about public safety emergencies taking place in your area. CENS resides in the Emergency Communications and Dispatch Center at the courthouse where our dispatchers use a computer program to define a geographic area to be notified, then record the emergency message and activate the calling function to all the numbers they have for that area.

CENS is useful in a number of emergency situations. The recent shootings in Winchester, and the wildfires in south county this summer are the most immediate examples, but evacuation alerts for floods, missing children alerts, hazardous materials leaks, and neighborhood emergency incidents are other examples of when the system is activated.

Land lines are automatically enrolled in CENS, but cell phones and VOIP are not. You will not receive an emergency notification on your cell phone or by VOIP unless you sign up. The sign up form is on the Douglas County Sheriff’s website at http://www.dcso.com/dccens/dccens_main.asp.

You can register multiple cell phones or VOIP lines, but the notification will be tied to the physical address that you put in the registration form. So if your home address is in Myrtle Creek you will receive calls about emergencies in Myrtle Creek. If you head to the coast on vacation, you will still receive calls for Myrtle Creek emergencies.

There is a great deal of information about the system on the website, including answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). I was relieved to learn that my contact information won’t be used in any other way and will try to remember that I need to re-register if I move or change my communication numbers so that I get the notifications that help keep my family safe.

Please make it a priority to register all your family’s cell phones and VOIP lines as soon as possible.

With winter weather coming our way – don’t delay!

Thank you, in advance, for making CENS registration a priority so the system works for you and your family!

Susan Morgan always welcomes your questions or comments. Please contact her by email at morgan@co.douglas.or.us; by mail at Douglas County Courthouse, Room 217, 1036 SE Douglas, Roseburg, 97470; or by phone at 440-4201.

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