Difference between emergency cell phone alerts

DOTHAN, Al. (WTVY) -- Many were not aware of exactly what a "Blue Alert" was when they received it on their phones in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

Four different alerts sent out by ALEA.

At any moment you could receive one of four alerts on your phone from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Fusion center in Montgomery.

ALEA Sergeant, Michael Simmons says "the agency that's investigating it will be the one to gather the info and then they'll reach out to ALEA to our fusion center, and then the fusion center will determine if it meets the qualifications to issue the alert."

Those qualifications vary depending on the type of alert.

For an AMBER Alert, agencies must believe the child is in danger of serious injury or death, have enough descriptive info about the child, and the child must be 17 years or younger.

However this is not to be confused with a missing child alert.

"The biggest difference in it and the AMBER, the AMBER deals with abductions the other one deals with just missing children” Simmons explains.

A missing senior alert is one of the easier alerts to recognize.

"A lot of time's it's just where they've wondered off or maybe they left a location to go somewhere and never made it to their destination, then they put out the missing senior alert to locate them” Simmons continued.

Those missing seniors typically suffer from a cognitive disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer's and are thought to be at risk of harm or death.

The last alert is the one most of us received Wednesday morning, a blue alert.

"A police officer has been possibly missing also if he made a traffic stop and then he's disappeared, they can't make contact with him or if he's been injured or killed and the suspect's at large, they'll issue the blue alert to help locate the suspect” Simmons said.

No matter the alert, staying aware of your surroundings could be the difference between life or death.

Simmons says "stuff like this helps. One child saved on an AMBER alert is worth every bit of it."

If you see a missing person or suspect described in an alert you should call 9-1-1.