Amber Alert message caught many off guard

WICHITA, Kansas — One way that the Amber Alert message got out was a cell phone text but it caught a lot of people off guard.

“We didn’t know what the sound was… We thought it was like a fire alarm or something and we were trying to figure out where it was coming from and then when i saw it on my phone, was like, oh, ok,” said Mindy Morris, a recipient of the Alert issued Tuesday evening.

There are a lot of ways to receive Amber Alerts and most people received theirs the way Mindy Morris did but for those that didn’t, they may have just needed to go into their settings to turn on the notification.

At the Emergency Preparedness Center in Sedgwick County, they do have the ability to ping your phone with an alter just like the Amber Alert system.

“It varies by individual cell carrier,” says Randy Duncan with Sedgwick County.

He says Sprint coverage varies a little from ATT and that varies from Verizon but they all carry the alerts put out on the emergency phone alert system. The tiny gaps in coverage though are the minor issues according to the experts when it comes to getting the alerts to people. For those that didn’t receive the notice, the most likely reason is that they had the alert turned off on their phone.

“One carrier will take a look and say, is the alert inside my cell tower? I’m going to broadcast it to every person that is within range of the cells towers inside that area,” said Randy Duncan, Sedgwick County Emergency Coordinator.

Those alerts can make a very unique noise on the cell phone. For parents who got it, it made an impression.

“You want to have the ability to help others in that situation. It’s not like it’s somebody selling something. It’s a need. It’s urgent,” said Jessica Whistler, parent.

Jessica says this is the first alert she got on her phone and didn’t even know it was there.

Law officers say cell companies are doing their part, the coverage is there so make sure you have your alerts turned on because when there is an Amber Alert, cops need all the help they can get.

“To have an Amber Alert, there’s got to be some pretty specific information that’s available. Vehicle description, description of abductor, time frame, things like that so they can initiate the amber alert,” said Gary Warner, Kansas Highway Patrol.

Even the older flip phones can get the Amber Alerts. The system is set up for it, you just have to be in the cell tower range of the alert and that is up to the law officers making the call.

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