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Citizen Emergency Notification System (CENS)

The Deschutes County Citizen Emergency Notification System (CENS) can be used to notify the public with important information during an emergency. Emergencies happen with little or no notice at any time of the day or night. With CENS, we can relay critical information to you about natural disasters or other emergencies that require your immediate attention. The service area for Deschutes County CENS includes Deschutes County, Crooked River Ranch, and Camp Sherman in the State of Oregon.

Until recently, emergency personnel would use CENS to call land-line telephones but did not have the capability to include Wireless (cellular) or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone numbers. Now, owners of VoIP or cellular phone lines can receive the same emergency message as those with land-line phones receive, but ONLY IF THEY REGISTER.


In the event of an emergency, Deschutes County officials can identify an affected area and, if necessary, send a message that describes the situation and recommend protective actions residents should take. The CENS system will automatically call out to all land-line and opt-in telephone numbers within that geographic area and deliver the recorded message once a voice is heard. If your phone line is busy, the system will attempt to redial the number three times to make contact. If an answering machine or voice mail system picks up the call, an emergency message will be recorded.

Example events that may trigger a CENS alert

Emergency Evacuations (Fire, Flooding, Public Welfare, etc.)
Natural Disasters (Fire, Flooding, etc.)
Missing or Endangered Children or Elderly
Hazardous Material Incidents
Neighborhood Emergencies

As with any system, CENS has limitations

If linked to a specific address, the location of the cell phone number becomes essentially fixed to that location. This could lead to the situation of a cell phone being notified when the user is mobile and well out of the affected area. Or conversely, the situation where the user is mobile, is in the affected area, but is not notified because the fixed location of the number is in an unaffected area. Please consider this when registering cell phone information for addition to the database.

Following registration confirmation, if an incident occurs in your neighborhood that results in activation of CENS, you will receive a notification. If an incident occurs after you register but BEFORE confirmation you will not receive a notification.

Keep in mind that CENS is an excellent enhancement to our effort to share emergency information with our citizens, but registration will not guarantee notification of any specific event. You are still encouraged to visit our website and to stay tuned to local news channels and radio stations during a community crisis.

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