Rochester Select Board raises concerns about emergency notification system

Nov 16, 2021

ROCHESTER — The town has turned to its reverse 911 calling system many times, including during the recent E. coli outbreak, but the Select Board is concerned that some town residents may not be getting these crucial messages.

Though the town’s water is now back to normal, Select Board member Woody Hartley took issue with how the calls show up on caller ID at the board’s Nov. 15 meeting. His complaint was that the calls do not show up as coming from the Town of Rochester.

Instead, reverse 911 calls come in from a number that “looks like it could be a scam call,” Hartley said, adding, “that is dangerous, people could have been ill” if they missed the news and drank the water without boiling it. Hartley heard from several people that they did not recognize or hear the crucial call.

He asked if the board could look into changing how the calls are sent out so that they are more clearly recognizable as from the town.

Reverse 911 calls go out to all listed phone numbers in town. But, fellow board member Paul Ciaburri pointed out that unlisted phone numbers do not receive the calls either.

Town Counsel Blair Bailey said that another option for the town would be to put out a notification and have people add the number that the calls would come from to their contacts, or otherwise mark it as an important number. That would ensure that the calls come through, instead of being filtered as spam.