First Responders Embrace Social Media To Reduce Response Times - myfoxcarolinas.com

First Responders Embrace Social Media To Reduce Response Times

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First responders including police officers, firefighters and paramedics risk their lives daily to keep us safe.

With changing technology, a call to 911 could get you help faster and sometimes all it takes is 140 characters.

Many public safety agencies like MEDIC and Huntersville Fire Department are using social media to communicate with other agencies.

Bill Suthard tweets several times a day.

“If we have road closures, if there’s police activity in an area. Sometimes it’s very effective to stop rumor control,” said Huntersville Fire Department PIO Bill Suthard.

“It’s incredibly effective like the snow storm with traffic alerts,” said Tara Regan, with MEDIC.

“We received multiple calls about a police helicopter and that police closed a road. We found out it was a film crew in the area. We pushed it out on Twitter and the calls stopped,” said Suthard.

Tara Regan with MEDIC says social media gets you real time info quickly.

 “The tornado warnings we had last week was really helpful for our citizens,” said Regan.

“There were people listening to the radios but being able to push the messages out through social media and be protected,” said Ragan.

“About 2 weeks ago we had nuclear sirens that went out throughout the Lake Norman area. We quickly tweeted that there was no emergency and it was an accidental situation,” said Suthard.

Typically the tweets are about road closures, accidents and emergencies.

“Rush hour in the morning or afternoon – people want to know if I should take a loop around here because someone’s responding to an accident,” said Regan.

“A year ago we had a heavy rainfall with flooding issues. We had to make rescues out of the water. We messaged on Twitter quickly and stopped the traffic quickly and pushed a busy area into non existence because of messaging,” said Suthard.

But if you do have an emergency, don’t tweet or rely on Facebook posts – instead, crews say, pick up the phone and call for help!

“It doesn’t replace a 911 phone call. 911 is the way to go when you are in need,” said Regan.

There’s also CHAR-MECK alerts where you can get instant notification on your smart phone from the county.

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