PORTLAND, Ore. — One of Oregon’s emergency communication leaders fears the Hawaiian mistake will hurt the credibility of Oregon’s system.
Chris Murray, Chair of the Oregon Emergency Communications Committee, said he's worried people will begin to ignore warnings because of what happened in Hawaii.
“We don't want them to hear, 'Oh yeah, that thing comes over; I know what happened in Hawaii, so I'm not gonna do it.' Or it comes over their cell phone and they say, 'I'm going opt out of this because you know, it’s bogus,' " Murray said.
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Many people in Oregon, including Kevin Perron, knew people who were terrified in Hawaii.
“When that happened, I put myself in their shoes," Perron said. "I don't know what I would do. Honestly I just thought, 'Huh, time to go.' "
Murray said it takes seven steps to send out an emergency warning in Oregon. Those steps give people time to make sure the alert is accurate.
There aren't a lot of people who are authorized to issue an alert.
“We tried very diligently to limit the system, the scope of the system, and the number of launch points that are available," Murray said. "Because with every launch point you have people you have to train."
The system is only used when absolutely necessary. In fact, use of the system is so rare, some don’t realize alerts will come through the phone.
“I didn't know you could get an alert on your phone," said Erik Bergstrom in downtown Portland. He was reminded that Amber Alerts come through the phone.
“It’s been a while since we've had something like that here,” he said.
He is correct. Oregon State Police have issued 26 Amber Alerts over the past 15 years. The most recent was in October of 2015, according to the OSP site.
Leaders hope that when the next alert is issued, Hawaii's mistake will be long forgotten.