New nationwide program alerts people through texts during certain emergencies

Amber alert text part of new nationwide program

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A missing child from Collier County sends people all over Florida into a panic because of what happened to their phone.

It's a new twist on old technology that has people wondering what exactly happened.

This is all part of a new wireless emergency alert program.

It just started the first of the year, notifying people when there's an alert regarding a national security threat, imminent threat alert or in this case an amber alert.

George Giles takes care of his 82-year-old father around the clock so when a loud alarm went off overnight he immediately thought something happened to his dad.   

"I grabbed something with his monitor trying to figure out if he did something in his room that made a noise loud enough that was waking me up like this," Giles said.

Once he fully woke up, he found out the loud noise was an amber alert text message telling him 2-year-old Denise Hernandez went missing in Collier County.

"At 2 a.m. when I'm sleeping I can't help them out anyhow," Giles said about the alert. "I wouldn't have been able to see anyone."

He also doesn't see the point in receiving it because Collier County is on the other side of the state near Fort Myers.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) said the alert went out to anyone who was near cell phone towers within the state.

The NCMEC makes the alert go out, but they said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is the agency that notifies them to send out the alert.

"They define their investigation to what area should be targeted that will most likely save that child," Bob Hover of the NCMEC said.

Hover said this is the first alert to be sent out like this in Florida and it's sent no matter what time it is.

"When a child is abducted, time is critical so that we get public support and participation immediately," Hover said.

In this case, the little girl was found safely.

Next time another child goes missing that prompts an alert, Giles said he won't get it.

He went into the settings on his phone and opted out.

Giles also called his provider and turned off his text messaging just in case.

If you'd like to do the same you can by going into your settings or calling your provider.

 

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