The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a media communications-based alerting system that is designed to transmit emergency alerts and warnings to the American public at the national, state and local levels. Television and radio broadcasters, satellite radio and satellite television providers, as well as cable television and wire line video providers all participate in the system (collectively, EAS Participants). EAS Participants broadcast thousands of alerts and warnings to the American public each year regarding weather threats, child abductions, and many other types of emergencies.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which governs the EAS, announced that a nationwide diagnostic test of the EAS will occur on November 9, 2011 at 2 PM EST. The purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the EAS as a mechanism to alert the public of emergencies. Although the EAS Participants currently participate in state-level monthly testes and local-level weekly tests, there has never been a nationwide test of the system. The Commission, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will use the results of this test to assess what improvements to the system as appropriate. The Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau encourage EAS Participants to take steps, in coordination with their State Emergency coordination Councils, in preparation for this test.
The public/viewers can expect to hear a message indicating the “This is a test.” It is anticipated that the test will last approximately 45 to 60 seconds. The FCC’s ultimate goal is to have an integrated public alert and warning system that will use multiple communications technologies, with the EAS serving as the primary method for transmitting national emergency alerts and warnings for the foreseeable future. “Testing on a national level is essential for the success of ensuring our local and national EAS system is functioning to a proficient level. Our public safety agencies have an obligation to keep everyone informed of critical safety events and predicted safety related issues. The NLTFPD is supportive of this test occurring next week of the EAS system on a national level”, said Fire Chief Mike Brown.