Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS) is a high speed communications system that delivers emergency information or warnings to designated geographic areas.

TENS is a combination of telephone, computer, and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies.

TENS is a very important communications note to put out there and we need it to be presented in the most complete manner possible.

TENS is used to communicate such information as:

  • imminent flooding
  • sheltering instructions
  • evacuation routes
  • missing person alerts
  • and more

By simply selecting an area that needs to receive emergency information, the message is prerecorded and then automatically calls the homes in the selected area - up to 22,000 per hour. It's another great way to communicate important information during an event.

TENS is managed by the Marin County Office of Emergency Services and as long as you have a landline you are able to receive these important calls during the time of an emergency. If you have a cordless phone or your service provider is also your cable provider you should double check that they have registered you with the emergency notification database.

TENS Question & Answer

  1. QUESTION: What information do you have on the citizens who are being called and where does the information come from. How is this information accessed or collected?
    ANSWER: Â We collect all phone numbers from Verizon and AT&T and upload them to our servers quarterly. The only people that can access these numbers and activate our TENS system is our County OES staff. These numbers are not given out to anyone else for any reason.
  2. QUESTION: If I am called, what information appears on my caller ID?
    ANSWER: The numbers that will show up on your caller ID varies depending on the method we use. They could be any of the following numbers: 415-507-1513, 480-629-0003, or 615-514-0815. If you have a standard voicemail/answering machine, the system will leave a message. If you have a voicemail/answering machine that says press 1 for Joe, 2 for Mary, etc., the system will not leave a message.
  3. QUESTION: Does TENS work with the relatively new internet/broadband/VoIP phones, e.g. Vonage or Comcast digital or AT&T U-verse digital?
    ANSWER: AT&T and Verizon cover the VOIP numbers for AT&T U-verse and Comcast, so those numbers are uploaded into the TENS database. As for Vonage, they do not have this option. Vonage subscribers must call Vonage to ask them to provide their numbers to AT&T & Verizon so those numbers will be covered when a call out is made. It's up to the subscribers to get Vonage to do this.
  4. QUESTION: What is the Emergency Notification Database and can any number be listed?
    ANSWER: It is up to the subscriber to contact their phone carrier and make sure that their number is added to the list of phone numbers provided to Marin County OES for emergency call outs. AT&T & Verizon do this automatically.

911 / e911

There are some differences with the 911/e911 service for these online phones.

e911 service is the number that is provided to Communication Dispatch Center. If you call 911 from your home phone, your address shows up on the Dispatch screen for a faster way to get help dispatch first responders to your home.

See also FCC website

Marin Emergency Automated Notification System (MEANS)

A system called Marin Emergency Automated Notification System (MEANS) gives each city/town the ability to enter resident information (home phone, cell phone, work phone, pager, and email) and upon activation of the system, messages can be sent to these devices.

Some but not all cities and town in Marin are currently using the MEANS systems.

Further Information

San Rafael Disaster Communications & Warning Systems

Marin County Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS)



City of San Rafael Office of Emergency Services
1039 C Street
San Rafael CA 94901
Tel: 415-458-5002

Working collaboratively with partner agencies and organizations, OES coordinates the mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery from the effects of emergencies and disasters that threaten the lives, property, and the environment of San Rafael. Organizes the Marin Get Ready program for San Rafael.

Marin County Office of Emergency Services
3501 Civic Center Drive #266
San Rafael, CA. 94903
Tel: 415-499-6584

Marin County OES provides emergency management services for the County/Operational Area including its eleven cities/towns and 300+ special districts.