Emergency Alert System
On Tuesday, November 9th, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) partnered to conduct the first ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
The EAS originated as a result of the nuclear era in the 1950’s as a means to instruct the population to take cover in the event of a nuclear war. After the 1963 the system was renamed the Emergency Broadcast System, and eventually it developed into its current form.
You probably would recognize the familiar test tone that interrupted your favorite television programs followed by “This is a test. This is only a test. Had this been an actual emergency”¦” These regional tests of the system have occurred fairly regularly over the past few decades. Several regions have used the system during local disasters like severe weather or earthquakes.
Since its inception, there had not been a nationwide test of the system. That was rectified on Tuesday afternoon. Experts were not sure what to expect, since it was the first time the system was tested on a national level, there were concerns that the message would not reach all regions. Some were concerned that the system would not work at all.
The results of the test confirmed that the system is not perfect. Several areas did not receive a message while other regions experienced strange occurrences like a Lady Gaga song playing over the test. Other regions heard only static after the beeping. The FCC released a statement that “the nationwide EAS test served the purpose for which it was intended (“¦) to identify gaps and generate a comprehensive set of data to help strengthen our ability to communicate during real emergencies.”
The test has shown some obvious glitches which have now been identified. Further analysis will show exactly what went wrong and how to fix. Other considerations that will be taken into account for further developing the EAS is the rise of new forms of communication. With more and more people accessing the internet and using mobile phones, it could be beneficial for the EAS to have means to send a message through these routes. Improving and expanding the EAS will help prepare and warn a greater portion of the population and bring the EAS into the modern era.
At Preparis headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia we tuned in to listen to the test. We heard the station report that a test was about to occur followed by the alert tone. The rest of the message was muffled static.
Did you tune in to listen or watch the alert? What did you see and hear?
Let us know in the comment section below!
Marlia Fontaine-Weisse is the Content Manager for Preparis.