An Amber Alert this week drew a lot of attention on how information from this national program works.
The goal of an Amber Alert is to instantly blanket the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child, a senior citizen, or disabled person.
On Tuesday, state police learned two Upshur County children could be in danger, and they decided to issue an Amber Alert.
These broadcasts use the eyes and ears of residents to help quickly locate any child who is abducted.
"We get the 911 call for the missing person, and we dispatch that out to law enforcement then they go the scene and determine, there's a few things that have to be determined to see if it qualifies as an Amber Alert," said Steve Linger, Upshur County 911 Director.
The state police are the lead agency in issuing an Amber Alert. The alert will be issued when a juvenile, 17 or under is abducted, or when a senior citizen over 55, or any disabled person goes missing. A lot of information is necessary for the alert to be effective, and time is critical since a child often faces a threat of injury or death. Linger said the first three hours are the most critical.
"The object is to get the information out as soon as possible to many sources as possible. If you don't get the information out right away then the person is out of the area and it doesn't do any good," Linger said.
Linger said law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry play an important role in making the Amber Alert system successful.
"We broadcast it all over the law enforcement frequencies and they call back in and let us know they've received the information, but this information goes out on highway signs, it comes in like you say smart phones, weather alerts everything carries the Amber Alert it is that important," Linger said.
When signing up for Amber Alerts you receive geographically targeted information to help identify an abducted child, abductor, or a vehicle suspected.
Those amber alerts are also distributed to cell phones.