Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia couple live streams emergency scenes using phones

A new breed of citizen journalist is showing up at the scenes of emergencies, armed with just their cell phones.

Streaming apps make it possible for anyone to broadcast live from anywhere, at any time

Bedford couple Susan Wortman and Kirk MacKenzie use smartphones and apps to live-broadcast emergency scenes. (CBC)

A new breed of citizen journalist is showing up at the scenes of emergencies in Nova Scotia, armed with just their smartphones.

Growing up, Susan Wortman and Kirk MacKenzie used to chase ambulances and fire trucks for the thrill of it. Now the couple, who are engaged and live in Bedford, keep a close eye on social media and use a police scanner app to stay informed.

When they hear about an emergency — such as the recent bomb threats that redirected planes to Halifax Stanfield International Airport — they grab their phones and hit the road.

Using another app called Periscope, the couple live streams events like these to the world.

The app allows them to engage with viewers, who can pose questions and get responses in real time.

"My biggest goal is to get the shot and fill people in," said Wortman.

When the Turkish Airlines flight received a bomb threat on Nov. 23, the couple was listening to the airport's scanner frequency.

Wortman woke up her fiance and off they went. The plane and the amateur broadcasters arrived at the airport at virtually the same time.

Hundreds of viewers tuned in to their live feed of the event and started asking questions.

A smartphone coupled with some apps allows people to live stream what they are seeing. (CBC)

Wortman works with a cellphone company, while MacKenzie is unemployed.

The couple is careful not to speculate about what is happening at the scenes.

"The last thing we want to do is misinform people and cause any extra tension than what there is with what's going on," said MacKenzie.

To be ready for the next event to broadcast live to the web, the couple keeps their phones charged, their scanners on and their ears to the ground.

"It's like curiosity killed the cat. I just want to know and I want to share that information with other people," said Wortman.

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