Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test

On November 9, FEMA, DHS and FCC will conduct the first national test of the Nationwide Emergency Alert System (EAS) test. This test will kick off at 1 p.m. (CST). The test will be nationwide, running concurrently across all time zones.

This system test is the first of its kind. It is designed to broadcast a nationwide message to the American public. Nothing like it has been conducted in the history of the country. There have been tests in the past but none to all parts of the Nation at the same time. The test will run concurrently on all radio and TV bands and the message will run for three minutes. Most messages in the past ran 30 seconds to 1 minute.

There is great concern in local police and emergency management circles about undue public anxiety over this test. The test message on TV might not indicate that it is just a test. The fear is that the lack of a message of explanation might create panic. Please share this information with your family and friends so they are aware of the test.

Below is additional information, along with two websites, that provide more information such as what people will hear and see during the Test.

During the test, listeners will hear a message indicating "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." This is due to the use of the live Emergency Alert Notification (EAN) code - the same code that would be used in an actual emergency. The text at the top of the television screen may indicate that an "Emergency Alert Notification has been issued."

This notification is used to disseminate a national alert and in this case, the test. In addition, the background image that appears on video screens during an alert may indicate that "this is a test," but in some instances there might not be an image at all.

There are several limitations to the current EAS for individuals with access and functional needs. FEMA and the FCC are committed to providing organizations and the EAS community with information well in advance of the test. FEMA and the FCC will further engage the EAS community to better understand the wide range of information and access needs in preparation for the national EAS. IPAWS has been performing outreach to access and functional needs organizations in several different forums, including working groups and roundtables led by the FEMA Office of Disability Integration and Coordination, with representation from multiple FEMA program offices, other Department of Homeland Security components, and other Federal Departments and Agencies.

Here are the official links from FCC, FEMA and DHS. This test of the Nationwide Emergency Alert System is official and will kick off at Wednesday, 9 November 2011 at 1400 ET

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