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Nationwide Test of Emergency Alert System

November 7, 2011

11/08/11 The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).  The national test will occur on Wednesday, November 9 at 2:00pm (EST) and will last 30 seconds.

The Emergency Alert System is a national alert and warning system established to enable the President of the United States to address the American public during emergencies.  NOAA’s National Weather Service, governors and state and local emergency authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts.

Similar to local Emergency Alert System test that are already conducted frequently, the nationwide test will involve broadcast radio and television stations, cable television, satellite radio and television series and wireline video service providers across all states and the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the American Samoa.

On November 9, the public will hear a message indicting that “This is a Test.” The audio message will be same for both radio and television.  Under the FCC’s rules, radio and television broadcasters, cable operators, satellite digital audio radio service providers, direct broadcast satellite service providers and wireline video service providers are required to receive and transmit presidential Emergency Alert System messages to the public.

There has never been an activation of the Emergency Alert System on a national level, and this test will serve as an excellent opportunity to assess the readiness and effectiveness of the current system.  It is important to remember that this is not a pass or fail test, but a chance to establish a baseline for making incremental improvements to the Emergency Alert System with ongoing and future testing.  It is also important to remember that the Emergency Alert System is one of many tools in or “Warning” and “Communications” toolbox, and we will continue to work on additional channels that can be a lifeline of information for people during emergencies and disasters.

This event should also serve as a reminder that everyone should establish an emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan for themselves, their families, communities and businesses.  For more information on emergency preparedness, contact the Marshall County Emergency Management Agency at 574-936-3740.