What to do When Emergencies Occur

Graphic courtesy Wikimedia.org

Graphic courtesy Wikimedia.org

This is not gonna be my typical post.  But it is something I feel I real need to share with anyone who reads my blog.  In the past week, there have been at least two “active shooter” events that have grabbed national attention.  And in both instances, the new age national media has gone overboard trying to be THE authority on what is going on.  All the while just repeating the same few facts that you already know, but trying to add their “expertise” to the story.  It amazes me how many reporters are “EXPERTS” on everything that comes up.  I am still waiting for the time they have a make reporter to be covering something obviously out of their field of knowledge, yet they will be called the network’s expert.

But I digress.

It’s nearly 2016.  Technological advances have brought us 24 hour news coverage and instantaneous local coverage of emergency events.  And for the most part, we just sit back and watch the coverage on TV and accept it as holy writ.  I want to share a few items with you that can supplant or at the very least augment the national media coverage of significant incidents, at least in the United States, and potentially the entire planet.

Scanners (PC and Mobile)

Broadcastify is a site that gathers and disseminates police scanner feeds from all over the world.  You can listen to it directly from your browser on a PC or Mobile device.  It is dependent on local residents to share local emergency scanners and port them to the internet.  While most local authorities have tactical channels and cellular communication devices to take critical issues private, you can still keep an ear tuned to what is going on.  I listened to the Colorado Springs incident and the San Bernardino incident via local scanners.  And there are mobile apps that allow you mobile coverage that you can configure to alert you when something is going on.  I personally use a product called Scanner Radio, and find it very helpful.

Maps (PC and Mobile)

Google Maps is a great tool to use during emergency situations in conjunction with Broadcastify.  Back in the summer, there were a series of tornados that stuck a town just south of Chicago.  By listening to the local scanner, and plotting the locations on Google Maps, you were able to track the damage path of the storms, and see what the area looked like BEFORE the media picked the most visually gripping damage area to shoot from.  Google Earth is also a great tool to use.

Newspaper Lists (PC and Mobile)

US Newspaper List is a website that lists newspapers, radio stations, college publications, social media feeds and more.  It is broken down by state and even national agencies.  So you have the ability to get granular on your search for news on a situation.

Radio Lists (PC and Mobile)

Radio Locator is  a site where you can search for local radio stations broadcasting on the net.  You can search for stations in the US and Canada.  I found this site particularly helpful a few years ago after the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, AL.  I had family living there and was having a difficult time getting info.  I found a local Tuscaloosa radio station and was able to listen to live broadcasts over the net.  Very helpful is emergency situations.

And finally, I want to leave you with these thoughts.

  1. When dealing with emergency situations, of you are going to pass along information to others, please PLEASE make sure you ONLY pass along OFFICIAL information.
  2. If you re-tweet something, make sure it comes from the official source (local OFFICIAL police account, local OFFICIAL university account, etc).
  3. Put a timestamp in your post.  Social media is not time sensitive.  If you post something about an event a 9 AM and someone does not read about it until 1 PM, they may think it is something current and start a frenzy
  4. Use your posts to refer followers to OFFICIAL sources of info.
  5. DO NOT post rumors. Leave that to someone else.
  6. DO NOT try to go out and record things if they are happening around you.  You could become a casualty of the situation.
  7. DO NOT set yourself up as an expert on the situation if you are not one.  That can only exacerbate the situation

So that is my post for now.  Kinda long, kinda off the technology theme, but something I felt the need and desire to share with folks.  If you have other resoursces to share, or comments about the post, please share it.  That’s the good thing about my blog….all thoughts and opinions are welcome.

Have a great day, and stay safe out there.

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