Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Emergency Alert Broadcast - Only A Test Says Government

Wednesday's Presidential Emergency Alert May Confuse Nation?

On Wednesday, November 9, around 2PM Eastern, the U.S. Government will be conducting its first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).  While most of us are used to regular state and local tests of EAS on our radio and television stations, this is the first time that the entire nation will be activated simultaneously as a "Presidential Emergency Action Notification."

During the test, listeners will hear a message indicating that "This is a test." Although the EAS Test may resemble the periodic, monthly EAS tests that most Americans are already familiar with, there will be some differences in what viewers will see and hear. The audio message will be the same for all EAS Participants; however, due to limitations in the EAS, the video test message scroll may not be the same or indicate that "This is a test."

The test will last about 30 seconds over all television and radio stations nationwide. Ironically, it will not be sent over NOAA weather radio frequencies where many monitor weather continuously in homes and businesses.

Although the EAS is frequently used by State and local governments to send weather alerts and other emergencies, there has never been a national activation of the system. The purpose of the November 9, 2011 Test is to assess the readiness and effectiveness of the current system and identify incremental improvements to better serve our communities in the preservation of life and property.

The nationwide EAS Test will be conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). 

The three federal partners have EAS management roles. FEMA is the lead agency in all operational and management functions of the EAS, developing national alert and warning capabilities, and integrating new technologies. The FCC is an independent agency that grants licenses, and presides over EAS rules and the rulemaking process, enforces rules, and handles test reporting data directly from EAS Participants. 

Due to limitations with the technology associated with the Emergency Alert System (EAS), some messages which appear on television or radio may not necessarily indicate that "This is a test."  As such, there is some concern that some people who are unaware of the impending test will react adversely.  

Local emergency management official say it is very important that everyone be aware that the test will occur, and that despite what the message may say, it is in fact only a test.  There is no need for anyone to react to the test message.

For more information, visit: http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/eas_info.shtm


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