Airport safety

SFO gets FEMA OK for Wireless Emergency Alerts

Here’s a smart – and potentially life-saving new airport service:

Almost exactly a year after a gunman killed 5 people at Fort Lauderdale International Airport comes word that an airport on the other side of the country – San Francisco International – is the first US airport to get approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue Wireless Emergency Alerts to any cellphone on airport grounds.

No special app or subscription service is needed in order for a mobile phone on airport grounds to receive a Wireless Emergency Alert Message, but the “Emergency Alerts” tab under the “Government Alerts” section of a phone setting has to be turned on. (Look for this under “Notifications,” in the same area where you find the Amber Alert tab)

According to SFO, if there’s an incident, emergency or situation which requires critical and potentially life-saving information to be shared immediately with airport employees, passengers and the public at the airport, designated and specially-trained staff will use the system to send a text message, accompanied by an audible alert, to mobile phones on site.

“Safety and security are our highest priorities, and we continue to enhance our emergency response capabilities,” said Airport Director Ivar C. Satero in a statement announcing the service, “Being the first airport in the U.S. approved to issue Wireless Emergency Alerts gives us an important tool to help keep people safe during an emergency.”

This seems like a truly valuable service that will hopefully spread to other airports.