California News

Aug 6, 2013 8:45 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

AMBER Alert wakes up many; It was a first for the state

Late Monday night many of us were awakened to an unfamiliar sound. That sound was an AMBER Alert message on our cell phones about the abduction of a brother and sister from San Diego County.

The message was the first statewide AMBER Alert to our cell phones.

The AMBER Alert system has been around since 1996. We see the messages on billboards on our freeways, but this is the newest effort.

FEMA is the agency behind the new way of reaching people about an emergency, but why the public was not educated about the system in advance remains unknown. KSBY spoke with local law enforcement and they have not been educated either.

"I started seeing people on Facebook talking about how they had gotten this alert and a few people said it woke them up and it was really loud. I was sitting here awake and I never got it," said Michelle Loomis, who lives in Pismo Beach.

This mom is concerned her phone didn't alarm her, and she is not alone.

"As a mother, gosh if my child was missing of course I would want to get the word out as quickly as possible," said Tooti Bevill, who at one time worked in search and rescue efforts.

Bevill says the whole point of AMBER Alert is to save lives and time is everything.

"And I think having AMBER Alerts on cell phones is a great way to do it. Think about how many people just in our area were touched by this," said Bevill.

Many took to social media Tuesday morning sharing stories about being woken up to this.

"Anytime you are woken up out of a sleep it can be startling," said Andrew Cannon, who works in San Luis Obispo.

If you don't want to receive an AMBER Alert on your cell phone, there are ways to turn it off. If you have an iPhone, go under settings and click on notifications, scroll down to the bottom and there is the option to turn off AMBER Alert. Same goes for other smart phones, like an Android.

The abduction happened on Sunday. Why the AMBER Alert was issued a day after the kidnapping remains unknown. KSBY put many calls into FEMA, but at this time, no comment has been received.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, since the inception of AMBER Alerts, more than 600 children have been returned home safely.

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