On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The nationwide test will be sent to radio and television stations beginning at 2:20 p.m. EDT. It will not include a message on cell phones via the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system.
Per FEMA, the upcoming test will evaluate the readiness of the national alerting capability in the absence of internet connectivity. The test will be approximately one minute long, have a limited impact on the public with only minor interruption of radio and television programs, and will be similar to regular monthly EAS tests. Both the audio message and text crawl should be accessible to people with disabilities.
The nationwide EAS test, as always, is being conducted through FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). The test message will originate from designated radio stations, known as Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations, which participate in a component of IPAWS called the National Public Warning System. All other radio and television stations, cable, wireline service providers, and direct broadcast satellite service providers should subsequently receive and broadcast the test message.
The August 7, 2019 test will be the fifth EAS nationwide test. The first took place in November 2011, and the second and third were conducted in September 2016 and 2017 respectively. The fourth and last test, which included a WEA message on cell phones, was performed in October 2018. You might recall it was postponed from September 20, 2018 due to the ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence.
As a follower/client of BOLDplanning, you may also know that the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Rick Wimberly, is an expert on the topic of IPAWS and WEA. In fact, he played an integral role during its nationwide adoption, and continues to provide insight on the subject throughout the public safety community today. When asked about the upcoming test, Rick said, “A nationwide test of the Emergency Alert Systems is crucial to ensuring the country’s public alerting capabilities are working as planned. The test is another step towards developing a national culture of preparedness.”
On behalf of everyone at BOLDplanning, kudos to FEMA, the FCC, and the many emergency planners and public safety professionals who have worked together to coordinate the August 7, 2019 test. We hope it goes well!