Take Shelter!

Social media scare in Jersey

The unfamiliar noise from Jaclyn Boruch’s cell phone startled her. She reflexively grabbed it. What she saw next scared her.

In bold red letters were the words “CMAS Alert” followed by “Civil Emergency in this area until 1:24 PM EST Take Shelter Now U.S. Govern.” 

The emergency alert message took up her entire screen. It locked her Android phone for several minutes.

“I didn’t know if it was something happening in the ocean, some happening on land or coming out of the sky. I had no idea so that’s why it was so frightening,” said Boruch, 22, marketing director at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monmouth County in Asbury Park.

This quote, from an NJ.com article by Eunice Lee, describes an incident that sent residents of several New Jersey counties into a panic early last week. It was only hours before police had confirmed with Verizon that the message had been a test of their crisis management system, but not before local law enforcement had been inundated with calls from concerned residents.

One county, Monmouth, actually halted the crisis in its tracks with a message from its own text-based crisis management system, “THERE IS NO EMERGENCY. The ‘take shelter’ message that Verizon sent IS NOT a VALID message. DO NOT CALL THE POLICE.”

The reaction from residents speaks well to the wide reach of these new crisis management systems and, as more and more are integrated into emergency services every day, we’re sure it’s not the last slip-up we’ll see.

The BCM Blogging Team

Comments 2

  1. Linda Goeppinger

    As the keeper of my company’s automated notification system, all I can say to Verison is OMG. I pity the person who pushed the button. This scenario if probably my biggest fear and I check and double check myself every time I conduct a test.

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