EAST TEXAS REGION (KTRE) - As regional coordinator for East Texas Regional Amber Alert Melissa Russell watched the first amber alert test hit the airwaves, tears came to her eyes. " I'm fixing to cry," said the Nacogdoches police dispatcher who has worked more than a year to reach this day. " This is a proud moment. I'm ecstatic that I'm seeing it actually come into play. "
Russell's introduction to Amber Alert began at a training seminar last year when she saw a map indicating the regions using Amber Alert. Russell recalled, " It showed our East Texas area as a just blank whit portion. We had nothing here. Once I saw that I realized that a person can drive from Jasper all the way to Texarkana with an abducted child before any alert would be issued. "
In between shifts Russell went to work getting Amber Alert for East Texas. There was cooperation from bosses, but all the leg work of establishing the largest voluntary partnership between local law enforcement and broadcasters is done on her own time. Even today's test was conducted before her 2:30 shift began. Russell said, " I didn't know if I could actually do this. I've had a lot of help from a lot of special people. Law enforcement agencies jumped on board. So did KTRE and radio stations."
Russell has big plans for Amber Alert's future. She wants to introduce flyers, electronic billboards, e mail, and text messaging into the program. Citizens can sign up to receive free Amber Alert text messages on their cell phones or pagers by going to http://www.wirelessamberalerts.org/ Businesses can sign up to receive amber alert faxes by going to http://www.beyondmissing.com/