EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM NATIONWIDE TEST TOMORROW:
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2011 AT 2:00PM EST.
Tomorrow at 2:00PM EST., every licensed broadcast radio and television station and all cable television systems within the United States comprising each of the fifty states, the federal district, the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa will simultaneously relinquish local control of their operations to the federal government, specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for a duration of time lasting at least thirty (30) seconds but not to exceed three (3) minutes to conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). For those outside of the eastern standard time zone, please convert to your specific local time.
The nationwide EAS test will be conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through its 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 agencies that have EAS management responsibilities. FEMA is the arm of the DHS primarily responsible for developing national alert and warning functions. The FCC is an independent agency that grants licenses to or otherwise oversees EAS Participants. FCC rules regulate the transmission of EAS alerts. The NWS is a key player in the dissemination of local warnings via the EAS. The great majority of EAS alerts are NWS weather-related alerts.
On November 9, 2011 at 2:00PM EST., FEMA will transmit the EAS code for national level emergencies to Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations in the national level of the EAS. The PEP stations will then rebroadcast the alert to the general public in their broadcast vicinity, as well as to the next level of EAS Participants monitoring them. This should continue through all levels of the system, until the national alert has been distributed throughout the entire country.
Pursuant to the FCC's rules, all EAS Participants must report back to the FCC on the results of this test, including whether, and from whom, they received the alert message and whether they rebroadcast it. FEMA and the FCC will study these results to determine if there are problems with the system and, if so, how best to remedy them. We anticipate that a nationwide test will be conducted periodically to ensure that the EAS is, and remains, functional.
Although the Nationwide 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, which is one reason for conducting a nationwide EAS test. Although the activation will include an audio message indicating that this is a test, a visual message indicating that this is a test may not appear on every television channel, especially for cable subscribers. This is due to the use of a live national code - the same code that would be used in an actual emergency. FEMA and the FCC are conducting outreach to the public, especially the deaf and hard of hearing, in advance of the test. Outreach will include specific information tailored to the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing and will be readily available at online sites. In addition, FEMA and the FCC will continue to work with EAS Participants to explore possible solutions to address this limitation.
At the FCC's June 9, 2011 Agenda meeting, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett, joined by representatives from FEMA and the National Weather Service, announced that the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) would take place at 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time) on November 9, 2011. The purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS as a public alert mechanism. EAS Participants currently participate in state-level monthly tests and local-level weekly tests, but no top-down review of the entire system has ever been undertaken. The Commission, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will use the results of this nationwide test to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS as a public alert mechanism, and will work together with EAS stakeholders to make improvements to the system as appropriate.
The EAS test plays a key role in ensuring the nation is prepared for any type of hazard, and that citizens within the United States can receive critical and vital information should it ever be needed.Many additional specific details can be found at the following sites:
FCC: Emergency Alert System Nationwide Test
FEMA: Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System