Emergency Social Media

The Warren County Public Safety Facebook page is up and running.

Personnel from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office set up the page which was first online Monday.

“Our goal is to have any kind of emergency situation or perceived emergency situation that we believe the public should have information about,” District Attorney Rob Greene said. “If there’s a tornado coming, something going on at one of the schools, a rumor that the dam broke, someone escaped from the jail…”

In emergencies, the responding agencies will not have to step away from their duties to update the site. “It won’t be someone on scene that’s typing on Facebook,” Greene said. “I will be posting a lot. I’m not a first responder, but I have immediate access to information.”

Not all of the postings on the site will be related to emergencies.

School delays and cancellations, black ice and other possible driving hazards, traffic problems and detours could also be posted to the site. According to Greene, any time the Warren County School District issues a call blast, information from that call will be posted on the site.

Part of the impetus for creating the site was an incident in which many parents removed their children from a county school in response to something that was posted on social media. Law enforcement and school officials had known about the situation for weeks, evaluated it, interviewed key people, and judged there to be no problem. However, information posted on social media sites was not immediately countered by official statements and actions and panic ensued.

A number of law enforcement and emergency personnel will be able to act as administrators of the site and post news there, Greene said.

In addition to the district attorney and the sheriff’s office, key individuals at Warren County Public Safety, Pennsylvania State Police, Conewango Township Police, Youngsville Borough Police, City of Warren Police, Sheffield Township Police, Tidioute Borough Police, and Warren County School District “will be able to directly input into this site,” Greene said.

“It is a work in progress,” he said. “There are updates being posted.”

And the page’s hosts are looking for ideas.

“We’d like the public’s input on what they’d like to see… what they wouldn’t like to see,” Greene said. “We’re gauging it.”

Although Greene said the administrators don’t want to see the site cluttered, they also want to keep posting fresh information. Since they do not expect, nor hope for, serious emergencies to take place several times a week, they will post other meaningful information at about that rate so people are encouraged to visit the site regularly.

“We don’t want it to be a stale site,” he said. “I’m anticipating three times a week.”

Facebook users with smartphones can receive alerts by ‘liking’ the page and accepting notifications, Greene said.