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Alert system notifies subscribers of emergencies

January 29, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Local residents can now sign up for an alert system that allows them to be notified by authorities about emergencies like crimes, severe weather, unexpected road closures, or evacuations of buildings and neighborhoods.

People who sign up for the alert system can designate how they would like alerts to be sent to them, such as by cellphone, business or home phone, email, text messages or devices for the hearing impaired, according to the Washington County Division of Emergency Services’ website at www.washco-md.net/EmergencyServices/index.shtm.

“You pick where, you pick how,” the website states.

People sign up for the service through the Washington County Division of Emergency Services’ website, said Capt. Mark Holtzman of the Hagerstown Police Department.

Police can use the service to alert residents about missing people they are trying to find, or to put residents on alert about an escaped inmate or the description of a crime suspect, Holtzman said.

The alerts can be sent to a specific section of Hagerstown, or to the whole city or county, he said.

Although Holtzman said the alerts are an effective tool for police, he said they need to be judicious in how they are used. Police will have to balance the use of the system to ensure they are not seen as “crying wolf” with the alerts, Holtzman said.

Individuals with disabilities who need help with the service may contact emergency planner Sam Anderson at sanderson@washco-md.net.

Anyone with questions about the service may call 240-313-4394.

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