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Staying in Touch – New Phone App “Coming Soon”

May 10, 2013

AppIt was dark and stormy when the call came into dispatch. The caller identified himself as Luke – a meteorologist. The man said he just spotted a tornado on the outskirts of the City of Macksville. He also told the dispatcher that he verified the funnel cloud with the National Weather Bureau. The only truth of this story was the caller’s name was Luke – we think.

Unfortunately, the flow of false information didn’t get any better the next day. An administrator with the Red Cross called to inquire about a farmhouse south of the City of St. John that had reportedly had all the windows blown out by last night’s tornado.

To quote the old movie “Cool Hand Luke” – “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” Or, better said, “What we have here is a failure to communicate – accurately.” So, what to do?

We decided that with all future storms we would issue official communications via one source. The messages would flow through the Emergency Service Facebook page. We implemented this practice the next evening when another storm rolled through Stafford County. It seemed to work – we didn’t hear any false stories.

A new phone app is also being developed to allow folks who have a smart phone to access our messages even if they aren’t in front of a computer. Other features will be built into this app – radar specific to Stafford County, controlled burn information, and the ability for citizens to input information.

Matt Moody is developing this new phone app free to us – it pays to have connections. He said it would be “nothing” to build. Using another “Cool Hand Luke” movie quote, “Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.”

*Look for the phone app to be launched in a couple weeks – the review time required by controllers.

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