All four of P.E.I.'s police forces now have their own access to the province's direct-to-cellphone emergency alert system.
The province has been using Alert Ready, Canada's emergency alerting system, since 2015. It delivers emergency notifications through radio and television bulletins as well as text messages. Island cell phone users will be familiar with the tests of this system, which sends a pop-up message accompanied by an alarm sound.
Until now, those alerts could only be issued by EMO officials. P.E.I. emergency management coordinator Tanya Mullally said since 2015 a number of incidents, and in particular the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia, prompted the training of police to use the system without having to go through EMO.
"It would be for very specific, police specific, types of events," said Mullally.
"For example, if it was a mass shooting, that is probably the most significant one, they would be able to issue that directly. You, as a public, wouldn't necessarily know the difference, whether or not it's EMO issuing it or RCMP or any of the other municipal police agencies."
Between 60 and 70 police officers on the Island have been trained.
The system has become more user friendly in the last six years, said Mullally, but it is still a full day of training, and officers are given resources to practice when they return to work as well. It is important they be comfortable with it, because any situation where it is used will almost certainly be stressful, she said.
The system has only been used once since 2015 for an actual alert. That was an Amber Alert in Summerside last year which turned out to be a false alarm.
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