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Emergency Alert For Palo Alto Firefighter Pancake Breakfast Draws Complaints

PALO ALTO (CBS SF) -- Palo Alto's top firefighter was defending his department's use of the county emergency alert system last weekend, to inform residents of a charity pancake breakfast.

About 27,000 residents received text message alerts from the county about the event.

Fire Chief Eric Nickel said the reason for the alert was to inform nearby residents the event included a life-flight helicopter landing at a local school, something that has prompted 9-1-1 calls in the past.

But, because the message started with "Pancake Breakfast," at least ten residents had complained that it was a misuse of the county's alert system.

After receiving the complaints, the city of Palo Alto was looking into its use of the alert system.

"We'll take a look at utilizing some of those other technologies, and possibly reserving the alert SCC for that emergency notification only," Chief Nickel told KPIX 5.

But, the message appeared to have had the effect the chief intended.  The city didn't receive a single 9-1-1 call about the helicopter landing.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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