Why the Helena Police Department, Lewis & Clark County Sheriff's Office or area fire departments would be calling you in an emergency

What is the Target Notification system?
Most people may recognize emergency notification systems by the brand name of “Reverse 9-1-1”, but the principle is the same:  it is a system that enables us to send high speed telephone calls to hundreds or thousands of Helena and Lewis & Clark County citizens with vital public safety information, or requesting assistance in an emergency. 

Why do we need Target Notification?
Lewis and Clark County is a geographically large county, stretching from the south side of Helena north to the Lincoln and Augusta areas.  Living in Montana, most people understand the natural emergencies that can strike our communities – floods, wildfires, and earthquakes to name a few.  Your emergency responders understand the importance of involving the public in public safety emergencies, whether it is seeking help from the public in locating missing persons, sending out information on public safety risks, or providing information on wildfire evacuations.  The Target Notification System allows the police department, the sheriff's office or area fire departments to efficiently notify as many citizens as needed in minutes. 

How does it work?
System activations are only approved by the Chief of Police, the Sheriff or the Helena Fire Chief.  Officials can map out the affected area, record a message, and send it on its way with the click of a mouse. Within moments, calls simultaneously reach the affected area to deliver warnings and critical safety instructions. The system uses the county's 911 database as its source for telephone numbers and is able to process up to 2,000 telephone numbers per minute. The system works with all phones that have a TDD line (used to communicate to the hearing impaired). The system also has a callback feature that ensures the message is delivered.

Both published and non-published "land line" numbers are dialed, and the system will leave a message if an answering machine picks up. If it reaches a busy signal, the system will try back three times to reach the intended party.

For the system to call your cell phone or VoIP phone, you must first register your number with Helena/Lewis & Clark 9-1-1.

  • If you have a telephone zapper used to block out telemarketers or your phone is blocked to unknown callers, the system message will not go through.
  • Don't call 911 after you are alerted by the system unless the message directs you to do so. This jams the 911 lines for other emergencies. 
  •  You may repeat the system message. Just follow the prompts the system gives you. 
  •  The system generates your phone number to us, not your name; your privacy is not compromised. 
  • Don't hang up in the middle of the message. The entire message must be left for the system to recognize that it was received. 

What if I move out of the area, or no longer want to receive notification calls?
If you move out of Lewis & Clark County, you probably don’t want to continue receiving our notification calls. Check to see if Target Notification is offered in your new hometown and if it is, register with that jurisdiction. If you move somewhere Target Notification isn’t offered, or simply don’t want to continue receiving calls on your wireless or VoIP phone, email the 911 supervisor, Pete Callahan, or call him at (406) 447-8233 and request your wireless or VoIP number be removed from the database. You will be contacted to confirm your request before the number is removed.