It's part of a new program to ensure new ways to get out the message
(Columbus) -- If you were surprised when you heard emergency tones, and received an AMBER Alert on your smartphone Wednesday morning, you're not alone. It was the first time in Ohio that the new Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system was used to send out an AMBER Alert.
Lt. Anne Ralston of the Ohio State Highway Patrol tells WTAM 1100 that it's part of a program involving wireless phone providers and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. All WEA-capable smart phones are automatically enrolled to receive these messages. Presidential emergency warnings and extreme weather warnings like tornado warnings are also part of the system.
Ralston says that even despite publicity last year, this was such a surprise to so many phone users that they want to opt out of the system. She says you can opt out through your phone provider, but the Ohio AMBER Alert Steering Committee is hoping that you don't. According to Ralston, "You might be out, and one of these comes across your phone and you happen to see that suspect vehicle, you might have an opportunity to help save a child's life."
One thing that has been decided as a result of complaints from Wednesday's AMBER Alert via the WEA system is the potential for them to be out in the middle of the night. According to Ralston, the Ohio AMBER Alert Steering Committee has decided that for now, there will be no AMBER Alerts issued in Ohio between 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. A permanent set of operational hours will be considered when the steering committee has its next regular meeting.
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