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Altus emergency workers use Twitter, Facebook to get out information

by Bryan Painter Modified: January 31, 2010 at 8:19 am •  Published: January 31, 2010
ALTUS — Crappie fishing.

That’s the example Lloyd Colston, director of Emergency Management for the city of Altus, provides for adding "social media” such as blogs and Twitter to his means of getting weather information to the public.

"The more hooks you have in the water, the more fish you are likely to catch,” he said. "Web media is just one of the hooks and there are even multiple hooks there.

"After all, it’s about getting the right information to the right person at the right time so they get to make the right decision.”

Colston is among emergency managers and others in weather-associated roles who have chosen social media and other forms of technology to let the public know about weather-related information, including information after a storm has struck. In fact, he used it as the ice storms struck Altus this past week.

These are not substitutes for storm sirens or weather radios. Nor are they a replacement for the "all-call” system, which informs by placing one telephone call to alert the community.

"When I endured the first winter storm of 2007, one of the things we did not lose was Internet,” Colston said. "Sections of the county had no power for 14 days but the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) had power and Internet.

"We were able to keep our news page, for the jurisdiction I served at the time, updated. As a result, the information was available to not only the citizen but also to our Public Safety Access Points.

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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