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Cellphones To Play Key Role During San Diego County Emergencies

Aired 9/18/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego County officials are set to announce plans to use a new federal emergency alert system to reach people on their cellphones during emergencies.

San Diego County officials are set to announce plans today to use a new federal emergency alert system to reach people on their cellphones during emergencies, such as a wildfire.

The County Office of Emergency Services and the Sheriff’s Department recently gained access to the Wireless Emergency Alert, overseen by FEMA and major wireless carriers.

"It’s critical that people understand the system so they can respond appropriately to protect themselves when they receive an alert on their phones," officials stated in a news release.

In August, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children used the system to issue an Amber Alert for siblings Ethan and Hannah Anderson. Hundreds of thousands of cellphone users across California received text messages and high-pitched alarms asking for the public's help to find the missing children.

The first local use of the system caused some public confusion, so officials plan to educate the public, ahead of the peak of wildfire season, on what to do during the next emergency.

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