FEMA, FCC to Test Nationwide Emergency Alert System

On November 9, at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, FEMA, in conjunction with the FCC, will test the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in a nationwide test. The EAS is a nationwide alert system that gives the president and other local, state and federal officials access to the public in the case of an emergency.

This will be accomplished via local stations, as FEMA will transmit the EAS code for a national emergency to Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations on a national level. In turn, these PEP stations will rebroadcast this alert to the public in their broadcast area, and then on to the next level of those who take part in the EAS system. This will continue until the alert has been distributed nationwide.

An audio protocol defined by FCC rules, an EAS alert is put into the system using encoding equipment specifically designed for the job. This code, in turn, is picked up by monitors on the local level who then rebroadcast the alert to their viewers and listeners.

The EAS is used in instances of public and national emergencies resulting from weather and natural disasters. They are also used in the case of an Amber Alert issued when a child has gone missing.

This will be the first comprehensive test of the system. In the 15 years the EAS has been around, it has yet to be tested on a national level. The test is being conducted to check its effectiveness and capabilities and to see if there are areas of improvement that need to be made.

While State and Local EAS alerts are limited to only two minutes, the nationwide test will not be under the same constrictions and is expected to last up to three minutes, though this could vary across the country. Future nationwide tests will also be conducted to continually check the viability of the emergency alert system and to see if it needs to be updated to take into account new parameters.

For more information about the nationwide EAS test, visit:

http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/services/eas/

http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/emergency-alert-system-nationwide-test

http://www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/eas_info.shtm