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Seattle rolls out new emergency system to alert the public

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SEATTLE --  When severe weather strikes, or a crash stalls traffic, the city of Seattle has a new tool to alert and notify people about emergencies.

AlertSeattle went live Monday. It's a real-time emergency communications system that the city said won’t just warn people but potentially save a life in the event of a major disaster.

Sounds of a strumming guitar and chatter about music are what The Trading Musician might be known for in Seattle. But also hard to ignore is its location just feet from Café Racer, where a gunman opened fire on customers in 2012 -- memories those like Raimond Herman can`t forget.

“All I know is that the shooter actually came here first and tried to get in and mercifully he didn`t,” said Herman, an employee at the Trading Musician.

The crime gripped the city as the gunman eluded police for hours. It’s a situation the city of Seattle could now address using a new tool.

“I think many people would appreciate knowing that the city has a system they can sign up for that would alert them in times of crimes like the Café Racer shooting or the Jewish Federation shooting,” said Barb Graff, director of the city's Office of Emergency Management.

Alert Seattle is a new service that will warn people about crime, severe weather, traffic problems, even natural disasters.

“We`re all accustomed to calling 911 in times of an emergency, but this is a system that allows police officers, firefighters and utility workers to push information to people who might be in danger,” said Graff.

Herman said it`s a tool he thinks would have been handy back in 2012 as that shooter terrorized communities and one that could be useful today.

“He could have come directly here afterwards, so if there was advanced warning, we could have locked the doors or left,” said Herman. “I think it`s a benefit if it saves a life.”

The best way to sign up for AlertSeattle is to go to alert.seattle.gov. You can customize the information you want to receive and how you want to receive it.