‘Brighton chaos’ was a false alarm

9News – by Kyle Clark

BRIGHTON, COLO. – We have never been happier to report on a mistake than we were Wednesday.

Because if this mistake was real, it would have been terrible.

9NEWS and other media outlets usually take tweets from official law enforcement Twitter accounts pretty seriously. So imagine what happened when we saw tweets popping up around 9 a.m. about an elementary school in Brighton being evacuated for a huge explosion, a chemical leak and a train crashing into a building. They branded the situation #BrightonChaos.  

“People located east of 124th and Highway 85 to 120th should stay inside. This includes Henderson Elementary,” one tweet read. Another said, “A reverse 911 call has gone out to affected residents. Henderson Elementary has been placed on a lockout meaning no one is allowed in & out.”


It was actually all part of a training exercise. But the key word, exercise, wasn’t in every tweet.

Wednesday turned into a lesson in emergency management, and in social media.

“So we did not think we were doing public tweeting. We had created what we thought — we were under the impression that they were closed, simulated exercise accounts, so that we’d be able to better practice our social media connection with our city,” said Stephanie Hackett, the emergency management coordinator for Brighton and Brighton Fire Rescue District. “So we were not aware, or I was not aware, that they would be visible, or that there would be any public component of it… Um, that’s why we exercise, so we learn.”

The idea was to challenge public information officers to see what it was like to live-tweet a disaster. They didn’t realize the Twitter accounts were visible to the public.

Mistakes happen. You have to love that Brighton owned theirs.

There’s a lesson here for all of us: double check the settings on social media accounts.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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