NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Most everyone now knows when they see or hear an Amber Alert it means a child is missing and is in danger.
Still, ongoing awareness is important. A regional Amber Alert training, held today in Nacogdoches, helps assure the program's continued success.
A string of child abductions six years ago led Melissa Russell to establishing the East Texas Center for the Missing. The regional Amber alert program is fulfilling her expectations.
"When we went live in 2009 to today in 2013 we have had 7 activations," said Melissa Russell, the coordinator of the Deep East Texas Regional Amber Alert. "And so far, 3 of those were actually for the regional program and the rest of them were for the other areas that requested our assistance because the abductor may have been driving through our area."
A safe child recovery is the goal. Reaching it requires regional coordination with state and numerous local networks.
"Towing companies, trucking companies, postal delivery services," said Sam Allen, the Texas Amber Alert coordinator.
During the training, Allen instructed Nacogdoches Police dispatchers to establish a master list of people out in the community every day.
"Wouldn't you want to have coverage from someone that's maybe delivering the mail that might know to look for the child," Allen said.
A decade ago a fax machine was the fastest way to send and receive information. Now Amber Alert relies on social media.
"We do have a Facebook page. That is updated as well," Russell said. "With the wireless amber alert technology on our cell phones it's automatically sent to your phone as an emergency alert in your area wherever your cell phone is hitting the cell tower it will send it to your phone to notify you."
Training sessions bring local and state coordinators together. They would just as soon not meet any other way. Almost no one wants to learn a child is in danger.
The media is also a big player in letting you know about amber alerts.
Lufkin DJ Danny Merrill dispatches Amber Alerts to regional media.
He and KTRE's Donna McCollum have worked closely with the East Texas Center for the Missing since its inception.