Northwest Residents Surprised By AMBER Alerts On Their Cell Phones

Aug 8, 2013

Cell phones along the west coast lit up yesterday and today with an AMBER alert for two missing California children. Authorities say the suspected abductor may be headed to Canada or to Texas. Many people in the Northwest had never seen an AMBER alert pop up on their phones before.

The message was sent to thousands of cell phone users, many of whom had no idea their phones had this capability.

Portlander Michael Montgomery was at home watching TV when he heard high-pitched beeping.

"And I thought at first it was some kind of alarm outside, and then I got a second AMBER alert, and I got up and my phone was on the table, and I looked at it, and I saw that I had the AMBER alert," Montgomery says. 

The messages are part of the National Wireless Emergency Alerts program that began in January. Most mobile users are automatically enrolled to receive alerts, though people can turn them on or off using their phone settings.

There have been several unconfirmed sightings of the car authorities are seeking, but no luck yet in finding the missing children.

Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting