Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Emergency Management

Emergency Telephone Notification

Dane County has the capability to do a mass notification to citizens by an emergency telephone notification system. This system is commonly referred to as Reverse 911. Please note that Reverse 911 is a trade name for a specific telephone notification product – it is not a generic term. Dane County does have an emergency telephone notification system, but it is not Reverse 911.

Also note that there is no relation between the County’s emergency telephone notification system and the smart phone Wireless Emergency Alert system. These are entirely different systems. They serve different warning purposes and they are completely independent from one another.

How does Emergency Telephone Notification work?

The Emergency Telephone Notification system allows the County to rapidly notify residents and businesses by telephone.

In the event of an emergency, an authorized operator can identify the affected neighborhood or region of the County and record a message that describes the situation and recommends the protective actions residents should take. The Emergency Telephone Notification system will automatically call out to all phone numbers in our database within that geographic area and deliver the recorded message. If phone lines are busy, the system will attempt to redial those numbers a predetermined number of times to make contact. If an answering machine picks up the call, the emergency message will be left on the machine.

When will the system be used?

Possible uses include:

  • Hazardous materials release. An airborne hazardous materials release or potential for a release where there is a need for residents to evacuate or shelter-in-place.
  • Community policing. Local police departments and the Dane County Sheriff's Department may use the system for a variety of community policing situations, such as missing children alerts or missing endangered adults.
  • Public health alerts. Dane County and the City of Madison public health departments may use the system to disseminate public health information such as boil water alerts or the outbreak of infectious disease.

Please Note: The telephone notification system is NOT used to disseminate weather alerts and severe weather warnings. The warning areas are typically too large, and the time durations too short for an effective delivery of the message.

Emergency Telephone Notification System Limitations

As with any component of the notification system, the Emergency Telephone Notification system has limitations. The telephone number database used for the outgoing calls contains land-line numbers only. Cell phone numbers are not included in the database. Cell phone numbers can be manually entered into the system if provided by the holder of that number. Click on the banner at the top to sign up to receive these alerts on your cell phone.