Last Sunday night, Compo Beach residents were startled to receive phone calls from an automated alert system.
Around 10:30, a recorded voice alerted them that a suicidal woman was in the area. It was the 1st use of the CodeRED Reverse 911 system since the town acquired it last fall.
The woman turned up safe around the same time the calls were made.
In the days that followed, the out-of-the-blue alert was a topic of conversation on the side streets and seawall.
Some residents were comforted that the system exists. They praised its use, and look forward to receiving warnings about storms and floods.
Others worried about possible overuse of the system. Some wondered who oversees the calls.
There were objections to the lack of prior notification about the system. A few residents were disturbed to be awakened — particularly for what they felt was not a real emergency. “What was I supposed to do once I got the call?” one asked.
There were questions of privacy — should residents have been told the nature of the emergency, or simply been asked to look out for a certain woman?
Others, meanwhile, felt the message did not go far enough. They were not sure whether to lock doors, or go outside to search for the woman.
One thing is certain: The CodeRED alert woke people up. In many more ways than one.