Social media sites not appropriate for emergencies

Social media sites must never be used for emergencies

Issues that require response should be routed through 9-1-1

 MELISSA (July 9, 2019) Calls to the City’s public safety personnel on topics that require immediate attention should always be placed to 9-1-1, and never on social media sites.

                “There are really no exceptions to this common-sense rule,” says Police Chief Duane Smith.  “Any call that requires a response from Police or Fire should be made to 9-1-1.  Residents who use the emergency number can be assured that they will get an appropriate response by the appropriate responders.  The system is designed that way for a reason.”

                Social media sites, like the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of the City of Melissa or the Melissa Police or Fire Departments are quite popular with local residents, often reaching hundreds if not thousands of readers and subscribers.  That popularity can sometimes be interpreted incorrectly, though, as residents may feel that posting a notice or status on these highly-visited sites are enough to get the attention of public safety or City personnel.

                “We do not actively monitor our social media sites, so when a posting is added by a resident who is seeking some kind of reply, they will likely not get one,” said Chief Smith.  “The City-related sites are designed to push information out, not to pull information from the community.  We use the sites to share information and news, but they are not intended as a way for people to report any kind of issue.”

                The Melissa Fire Department also has a very popular social media presence, and Fire officials sound a similar caution to residents, according to Fire Chief Harold Watkins.

                “Our sites are intended to keep the community informed on fire related issues, to invite residents to events we may be presenting, or to remind community members about things like checking smoke detectors,” says Chief Watkins.  “We do not actively monitor the sites, and we certainly discourage people from using the sites to report a fire or other emergency.”

                Recent posts from citizens on the various City of Melissa sites have included complaints about loose animals, excessive noise, and traffic violations.

                “Calling 9-1-1 and reporting these, and all other issues that require our attention, is important for many reasons,” says Chief Smith.  “Among the most important is our ability to initiate and keep a record of calls that come in.  Having an accurate record of when calls come in, what the call was about, and how it was handled, are critical for both Police and Fire.  Posting a notice on Facebook or Twitter does not come close to that kind of process management.”

                Emergencies or issues that require public safety responses should always be reported through 9-1-1.