Tony and Adams PartiesCocktail Parties, Birthday Parties, Receptions and Showers...click here and book your party at TnA's today!Click Here
In an emergency, Twitter hash tags and Facebook posts aren’t a substitute for calling 911.
That’s what Tammy Fedoruk, communications manager Thunder Bay Police Service, said when she heard some Canadians were turning to Twitter and Facebook during an emergency.
An Ipsos Reid study released this week showed more than 35 per cent of those surveyed expected emergency services such as firefighters and police officers to react to posts for assistance on social media websites.
Thunder Bay police have yet to join either Twitter or Facebook but Fedoruk said that doesn’t mean they aren’t getting tips or even emergency calls online.
“I know we receive calls quite often through Facebook,” Fedoruk said.
“We don’t actually monitor any of those social media. Somebody would post something on Facebook and somebody else would see it and would phone 911. It’s not frequent but it is definitely more common.”
Those calls usually were about threats of suicide or checking on those in need.
Fedoruk said it’s important for people to call 911 in an emergency because the operators are trained to ask questions and find out what’s going on. A Facebook post or a tweet wouldn’t provide the same kind of details an operator would need to inform any of the city’s emergency services, she said.
“By going through these backdoors and social medias and having a third-party call in we could be jeopardizing police or public safety,” she said.
“I can’t see social media ever replacing 911. The public seems to have a belief that we do monitor these social medias but I don’t see it replacing 911.”
Unlike the city police, the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service does have a Twitter feed as well as a Facebook account and updates it’s followers on recent news as well as giving them a chance to voice any concerns.
NAPS Sgt. Jackie George said Twitter is a good way to engage the public but it’s not a substitute for talking to someone over the phone.
“As part of our Facebook information we have posted that it is not an emergency line,” George said.
“The Twitter account also states that we don’t monitor the account 24 hours a day seven days a week. However, the accounts are looked at every day including the evenings and weekends. We have advertised well in our communities that we have emergencies phone numbers if they need to reach a police officer.”
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.