11 September 2023

Don't block this phone number, it might just save someone's life

| Albert McKnight
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Police in Canberra have adopted the use of the Emergency Alert system. Photo: ACT Policing.

While spam calls are certainly a problem, there is one number that you should not block.

On Friday (8 September), ACT Policing said it would adopt the use of the Emergency Alert system so police can better inform the Canberra community during an emergency incident.

Alerts are sent by the number “0444 444 444” so the community is urged not to block texts or calls from this number.

ACT Policing said Emergency Alert was the national telephone warning system used by emergency services to send messages about potential emergencies.

The system can send recorded voice messages to landline and mobile telephones, or text messages.

“The messages are delivered to a specific geo-spatial area defined by the emergency service organisation issuing the message,” police said.

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It is already used by the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) and was used during the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires.

Police said they may use this alert system for emergencies that include high-risk missing persons, terrorist incidents, active shooter incidents or Amber Alerts.

ACT ESA will continue to use alerts for incidents that include fire, floods or significant storms.

Police have asked Canberrans to save the number 0444 444 444 in their phone as “Emergency Alert” so they are not caught off-guard when an alert is issued.

Since the alert system was set up in 2009, it has been used more than 2250 times across the country and sent about 70 million messages.

However, the system itself warns that its alerts are just one way of warning communities and will not be used in all circumstances.

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As the alerts rely on telecommunications networks to send messages, message delivery cannot be guaranteed.

The system urges people to act decisively as soon as they know there is danger.

The messages sent out by the alerts provide information on the current emergency, what action to take and where to find further information.

For more information on the system, click here. To view a map of incidents in Canberra, visit the ESA’s website.

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Great – scammers begin to scam in 3, 2, 1

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