EMERGENCY ALERTS: Cell phones abuzz with wireless info - Fox 2 News Headlines

EMERGENCY ALERTS: Cell phones abuzz with wireless AMBER Alert info

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

The minute the AMBER Alert was issued on Wednesday, cell phones across the state started buzzing, marking the first time an emergency alert of this type went wireless.

At about 3 p.m., cell phone users across Minnesota received information about the abduction of 8-month-old Carlos Orosco in Minneapolis.

"All of a sudden, my phone just screeched at me," recalled Julio Ojeda-Zapata, technology reporter for the Pioneer Press.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the mass mobile communication may have helped police find their suspect as quickly as they did.

"It was very effective because I looked at the phone and saw the AMBER Alert, and what's interesting -- just five seconds before, I also saw the AMBER Alert on a highway sign," Ojeda-Zapata said. "They're doing it right. You can't ignore AMBER Alerts these days."

The coordination didn't end there. When the mobile alerts went out, more than 110 billboards across the state also displayed the AMBER Alert information too.

Just under an hour after the AMBER Alert was issued, Minneapolis police had a suspect in custody and were reuniting the boy with his mother.

"The more people that have that information, the more likely we're going to have someone call with information," said Janell Rasmussen, a Minnesota AMBER Alert Coordinator.

According to the BCA, the new wireless emergency alerts will also be issued during storms and for presidential alerts -- but just because you have a cell phone, that doesn't mean you got the message. It all depends on the phone and whether or not it has the capability to receive emergency notifications.

"Pretty soon, everybody who carries a smartphone is going to have a phone that is going to be compatible with this system," Ojeda-Zapata said. "I can't think of a better way to get the word about these kinds of things. This is very, very effective."

Users can block storm and AMBER Alerts from appearing on their phone, but there is no way to block a message from the president.

"If the president wants to talk to you, you have to listen," Ojeda-Zapata quipped.

Anyone who wants to receive such alerts but did not on Wednesday can contact their service provider for more information.

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