Union County and city of Marysville officials have decided to stop using the emergency telephone notification system known as CodeRED for tornado warnings.

Union County and city of Marysville officials have decided to stop using the emergency telephone notification system known as CodeRED for tornado warnings.

They said CodeRED on May 11 and 31 took too much time to notify the public of tornado warnings.

"It seems the messages get relayed too late," sheriff's office communication director Anne Barr said.

About 16,000 Union County residents signed up to receive the free CodeRED service. She said it takes about 15 minutes for all 16,000 to receive a call.

"Sometimes that's too long, especially for tornado warnings, when time is not on your side," she said. She said the sheriff's office now encourages residents to watch the local news and use weather radios.

She said part of the delay is the time required to record the calls, which takes a couple of minutes. The other factor is that local phone lines can't handle that many calls in such a short amount of time, which slows things down further.

Barr said CodeRED can still be used for notifications such as prison escapes, home invasions and natural gas leaks.

CodeRED vice president David Digiacomo said CodeRED can make 60,000 calls an hour.

"It just depends on what the local telephone switch can handle," he said. He said the company currently has about 40 contracts in Ohio, including both cities and counties. Several of those contracts cover six or seven cities each, he said.

Union County and Marysville signed up for CodeRED, sharing the $7,000 annual cost. In return, county residents can sign up for the service for free. The annual fee also covers 40,000 minutes of phone use each year.

Barr said a 30-second message sent to 16,000 people will use 8,000 minutes.

Digiacomo said another CodeRED product, Weather Warning, is faster because it's completely automated.

"That's what we recommend for tornado warnings," he said.

Barr said there hasn't been enough time to consider that program.

"We just recently learned of Weather Warning and have not really had time to do research on it or discuss it at length as a group," she said.

It's important for the public to sign up for CodeRED, Digiacomo said.

"The only way to guarantee you're in the emergency database is if you sign up," he said. "We have to know how to contact you. That could help save a life down the line."

To sign up for CodeRED, call (937) 645-4110 or log on to www.co.union.oh.us/ sheriff.