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Saskatoon EMO officials say notifynow is trustworthy

Saskatoon emergency measures organization issues re-assurance that alerts on notifynow are sent by a team.
Saskatoon emergency measures organization issues re-assurance that alerts on notifynow are sent by a team. File / Global News

Saskatoon’s emergency measures organization (EMO) is reassuring the public that notifications in the city are sent out by a team.

They issued the re-assurance after an emergency alert in Hawaii on Saturday caused panic for local residents and vacationers.

READ MORE: Accidental ballistic missile alert warning issued to cell phones, TV and radio in Hawaii

The false alarm was triggered by human error and was sent to over one million cellphones.

One Saskatchewan man who was there said people were looking to the sky in terror as they scrambled without any direction on what to do.

“I grabbed my backpack and threw in our passports, cash and stuff just in case we were going to have to scramble in a hurry,” said Michael Moreside, who is from Rosetown.

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“I’m not an anxious person but for half an hour I was having a little bit of anxiety attack and the fact that the locals didn’t know what to do.”

The alarm was cancelled after 38 minutes and authorities said there is no system in place to quickly send another message to cancel the first warning.

READ MORE: Hawaii lacked safeguards to prevent false alarm about missile attack: FCC

Officials in Saskatoon said if a massive miscommunication was accidently sent on notifynow, they would be able to quickly intervene and send out a correction.

“When we sent out our messages, we take them very seriously,” said Deb Davies, who is the city’s EMO co-ordinator.

Davies said that notifynow messages are never automated and are always sent to key emergency and senior staff.

“We read them and re-read them to make sure that we have the correct message and that it’s being delivered in all the proper formats that we wish it to be delivered.”

Davies added that in the event of an error, it can be immediately corrected with a follow-up notifynow message to the exact people who received the first message.

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People who sign up for notifynow can receive city-wide alerts or narrow it down to specific neighbourhoods.

Messages are sent by text, email or through a phone call to a land line or cellphone.