Amber Alert: Governor makes Jan. 13 an official day of awareness about child safety network

Jan. 13 is AMBER Alert Day in Oregon.

Gov. John Kitzhaber issued the proclamation on Thursday, signaling the state’s resolve to bring attention to an important child safety network.

The AMBER Alert plan is a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies and local broadcasters to send an emergency alert to the public when a child has been abducted and it is believed the child’s life is in danger.

AMBER Alert refers not to the color equivalent of “caution,” but to Amber Hagerman, a young girl in Arlington, Texas. The anniversary of the Amber Alert program sadly remembers her abduction 18 years ago as she rode her bicycle and was later brutally murdered.

The acronym created for the network is Amber: America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.

It provides emergency broadcast messages to the public when law enforcement determines a child has been abducted. All 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia have established AMBER Alert plans, creating the most significant child recovery network in the history of our country.

An AMBER alert came out of the Gorge just less than a year ago when a boy in The Dalles was taken from his home by a 36-year-old male after the man assaulted the boy’s mother and an adult male friend with a hammer. The Dalles Police Department responded to investigate and requested OSP activate an AMBER Alert.

About an hour and 40 minutes after the reported abduction, an AMBER Alert was activated in Oregon and information distributed to media partners and the public. OSP staff established a tip line call center and this was the first AMBER Alert activation in Oregon that also alerted the public via an important secondary distribution avenue through the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) program, which is also known as the Commercial Mobile Alert System. About 90 minutes after the AMBER Alert was activated, the child was safely recovered and the suspect arrested.

The governor’s proclamation follows the second busiest year for Oregon’s AMBER Alert program. The Oregon State Police joins the U.S. Department of Justice, AMBER Alert coordinators at state, regional, tribal and local levels, state Missing Children Clearinghouses and partners commemorating the nation’s eighth AMBER Alert Awareness Day.

Since the program’s inception, the AMBER Alert network has helped find and safely recover more than 672 children across the country. During the 11 years since the State of Oregon announced implementation of a statewide AMBER Alert Plan, Oregon has activated an AMBER Alert 22 times for cases originating in Oregon and from other states. Twenty-four children who were the focus of the AMBER Alert were safely recovered.

During 2013, four AMBER Alerts were activated in Oregon for abducted children; half of which were out-of-state requests after information indicated the child and suspect may be traveling in Oregon.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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