Archive for Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nationwide Emergency Alert System test set for 1 p.m. Wednesday

November 9, 2011

"This is a test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test.”

That’s a familiar warning and at 1 p.m. Wednesday will be the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, or EAS, conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Communications Commission and National Weather Service. The EAS is frequently used locally or regionally to send weather alerts and Amber alerts for children in danger.

Originally, the test was scheduled to last three minutes and 30 seconds, but that test duration has been shortened.

Still the test will be unique.

“It’s never been used. It’s never been nationally tested, and in light of the things that happened around the world over the last 10 to 12 years, both FEMA and the FCC felt they needed to test the system and see how it’s operating,” said Kent Cornish, president of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters.

The test will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday and transmitted by area radio and television stations, as well as cable systems and satellite TV providers, and it will briefly interrupt programming.

According to FEMA, the test will help agencies determine the reliability of the system and its effectiveness in notifying the public of emergencies and potential dangers nationally and regionally.

Federal, state and local emergency management officials are working to get the word out to the public about the test because it will last longer than the normal monthly tests.

Listeners will hear a message indicating “This is a test,” but the video message slide or scroll across the television screen may not always indicate it is a test. According to a FEMA guide about the test, authorities want to avoid confusion and people possibly inundating emergency dispatchers with calls during the test.

Officials at Douglas County Emergency Management said the event would serve as a reminder for Douglas County residents to establish emergency preparedness kits and plans for themselves and their families.

“We need to make sure we’re prepared, and I’m convinced all of our broadcasters have been testing their equipment as they do every month and every week,” Cornish said, “and they’re on board to make sure that it goes smoothly.”

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