Social Media Helping to Save Lives in Emergencies

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STATELINE (WIFR) – Twitter and Facebook are always a good way to keep up to date with our friends and now social media sites could save our lives.

When a natural disaster hits, things can be hectic when trying to stay safe or searching for loved ones, but experts say that it would be wise to keep your cell phone handy in order to monitor your social media feeds.

“People really want to have a social connection with first responders. They automatically expect that their police department, their fire department, their EMS are going to have a Twitter account or a Facebook page that they can go to when there are times of crisis so that they know that they can go there for the most accurate and up to date information,” said SB Crisis Consultant Suzanne Bernier.

During tragedies like the tornadoes in Washington and Joplin and Hurricane Sandy, social media has played an important role in getting people to work together in emergencies across the country.

Bernier says it’s important to follow local emergency agencies to see what’s the best plan in a crisis and to help locate loved ones.
In Rockford, Police Lieutenant Pat Hoey has controlled the department’s social media platforms for about a year and says that it’s not just the citizen’s responsibility of communicating online.

“It’s so imperative that first responders and emergency agencies engage in social media so they’re getting out timely and accurate information,” said Lt. Hoey.

Bernier says that social media is here to stay, especially Twitter. With 25% of Americans searching the internet solely on their cell phones, it’s becoming increasingly important to get on for instant information.

Hoey says he typically posts a few stories a day and welcomes any interactions on Facebook and Twitter. Rockford Fire however, does not have any accounts. He also reminds us that during a crisis to not believe everything we read.

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