Cumberland Times-News

Local News

March 10, 2013

AMBER alerts being sent to area cell phones

CUMBERLAND — AMBER Alert notifications are now being sent to every wireless-compliant cell phone in the area of the alert.

Previously, AMBER Alerts were only received on a person’s cell phone who had visited a website and chose to opt in. This no longer applies to the new AMBER Alert cell phone notification system.

The wireless emergency alert uses a loud tone, similar to the emergency alert system messages on radio or television, to notify the public. The system will also send a 90-character text message with basic information concerning the AMBER Alert. Alerts are also issued for areas that users visit outside Maryland.

The AMBER Alert system has been instrumental in the safe recovery of 602 children nationwide. The alert signals a life-or-death situation. This new system will allow the alert to reach more of the public and enlist their eyes to help find an abducted child and aid in his safe recovery.

Users who choose not to receive the AMBER Alert can contact their cell phone service provider or shut off the alerts in the “alert/notifications” section of their cellular phone. If the phone is placed on vibrate or silent, the audio tone will not be heard.

The Federal Communications Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Wireless Association assisted in the development of this new system to notify the public of certain emergencies.    

Maryland instituted the AMBER Alert program in August 2002. To date, Maryland has issued 33 alerts. The AMBER Alert is issued for abducted children only and must meet strict criteria. It can be requested by law enforcement only. The new system is not being used for Silver Alerts.

More information is available at Communications.fema.gov.commercial-mobile-alert-system.

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