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Mar 16, 2010 10:17 PM by Andy Koen

Tweeting about emergencies

When a building at the Berkshire Apartments caught fire last Thursday, Colorado Springs Firefighters "tweeted" about it. It was one of the first major calls to be put on their new Twitter page.

"We're able to get out some realtime emergency incident information not only to the news but to the community," explains CSFD public information officer Lt. Robert Coffey.

Social media is playing a growing role in how our first responders connect to the public.

The information can be helpful when you're trying to avoid traffic accidents and a road closures.

"On one of the really snowy and icy days we were sending out information and tweeting how there were different changes with different accidents happening all over the city," said CSPD public information officer Lt. David Whitlock.

In developing situations, like wild land fire where evacuations are needed, Coffey says the immediacy of information Twitter provides can save lives.

"By using Twitter, either you get the notification right away yourself, or the news gets the notification and puts it on a roller across the screen," Coffee said.

Both Coffey and Whitlock stress that Twitter shouldn't be used to report emergencies.  You should still call 911.

Here are the Twitter names used by local law enforcement and emergency services:

CSPDPIO - Colorado Springs Police Department
CSFDPIO - Colorado Springs Fire Department
EPCSheriff - El Paso County Sheriffs Office
CSPChief - Colorado State Patrol
COEmergency - Colorado Emergency Management
oterosheriff - Otero County Sheriff's Office

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