Nationwide EAS Test Planned at 9 a.m. on Nov. 9
By Wendy Osher
A nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will take place at 9 a.m. HST on Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
The test will run across all radio and television stations throughout the nation.
The upcoming test will be the first nationwide test of the EAS. The system was designed to allow the President of the United States the ability to directly address the American public during an emergency.
FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) have stated that the purpose of the test is to measure the effectiveness of the EAS.
“A national test of our Emergency Alert System, with the vital communications support and involvement of participants, is a step towards ensuring that the alert and warning community is prepared to deliver critical information that can help save lives and protect property,” said Damon Penn, FEMA’s Assistant Administrator of National Continuity Programs.
Because there has never been an activation of the Emergency Alert System on a national level, FEMA views this test as an 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.”
Both FEMA and the FCC now plan on joining together in testing the EAS nationwide each year.
Because the test occurs during the APEC conference in Honolulu, Hawai’i officials have been taking extra efforts to ensure the public is informed of the upcoming test
During the test, radio listeners and television viewers should hear an announcement similar to the following:
“This is a test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test. The message you are hearing is part of a nationwide live code Test of Emergency Alert System capabilities. This test message has been initiated by national alert and warning authorities in coordination with Emergency Alert System Participants, including broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline participants in your area. Had this been an actual emergency, the attention signal you just heard would have been followed by emergency information, news, or instructions. Remember, this is only a test. The EAS is also used by State, Territorial, Tribal, and local authorities to alert and warn the public and provide important emergency response information. Remember, this is only a test. Please stay with this test message as it will be repeated…”
Television viewers may see a slide indicating that the EAS activation is only a test. The text scrolling across the screen may not state “this is a test.” Coordinators advise the public not to be alarmed, should this occur.
Similar to local EAS tests that are already conducted frequently, the nationwide test will involve broadcast radio and television stations, cable television, satellite radio and television services and wireline video service providers across all states and the territories of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa.
The upcoming national test is intended to ensure that the EAS works as designed. “As recent disasters here at home and in Japan have reminded us, a reliable and effective emergency alert and warning system is key to ensuring the public’s safety during times of emergency. We look forward to working with FEMA in preparation for this important test,” said Jamie Barnett, Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.
Any questions regarding the test can be directed to Hawaii State Civil Defense at (808) 733-4300.
More information is also available at www.scd.hawaii.gov.
This event serves as a reminder of the importance of establishing an emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan for themselves, their families, communities, and businesses. More information on how to prepare for and stay informed about what to do in an actual emergency is available at www.Ready.gov.