DES MOINES – Polk County is starting its new emergency alert system Wednesday. The new system, Alert Iowa, sends alerts directly to people’s phones.

Polk County Emergency Management is urging all residents to sign up for the alert system on the website. When people sign up they can choose what types of notifications to receive and how they want to receive them.

The system will send out weather alerts from the National Weather Service, but will also be used to send out alerts for other emergencies.

“A missing person we need to get that information out quick. Someone that’s armed, a suspect in the area, an individual that escaped from jail or prison, that can be a safety threat. Information like that that we can’t get out is what we’re going to be using it for,” Tracey Bearden, the 911 Coordinator for Polk County Emergency Management, said.

Bearden said that moving to Alert Iowa for the county’s emergency alert system is cheaper and more efficient for spreading important information to residents.

Polk County Emergency Management will be sending out a test for the system later today. They are encouraging all residents to sign up. Bearden said that the new emergency system can save lives.

“If you do not sign up and something happens in that area you’re not going to receive that alert so this is one way for first responders and other officials who have the ability to ask for alerts to be sent to keep you safe, keep you informed and this information is going to get out quicker than any other means,” Bearden said.

To sign up for the new emergency alert system visit Polk County’s website.