Emergency notification misuse or misunderstanding?

PALO ALTO, California — A few residents are upset over a recent alert sent over the automated emergency notification system by the Palo Alto Fire Department. Fire Chief Eric Nickel approved the following message to be sent over the countywide alert system to approximately 27,000 residents:

This is a message from the Palo Alto Fire Department. Palo Alto firefighters will be hosting a community pancake breakfast benefiting Project Safety Net this Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rinconada Park, located at 777 Embarcadero Road. The event will include a simulated automobile rescue using the Jaws of Life and a live landing of Life Flight’s helicopter. For additional information, please find us on Facebook and Twitter or visit Project Safety Net at www.psnpaloalto.com.

Some residents claim this was a misuse of the emergency notification system because they believe it was primarily sent as a way to market the fire department’s charity pancake breakfast. In the fire department’s defense, Chief Nickel states the notification was not intended as a way to market the event, but instead it was sent out of concern that residents would flood the 9-1-1 dispatch system when they saw the Life Flight helicopter landing in town. Citizens are naturally curious when they see emergency personnel and apparatus, so the fire department wanted to ensure the community was aware this was a simulated event and not an actual emergency. [Read the full story at EMS World]

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