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This is a Test of the Emergency Broadcast System. Please Stand By

FEMA will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System today at 2 p.m.

New England is coming off of its first major snowstorm. Just as most homeowners in the region are getting their electricity restored, their heat, phone service and, for some, their well water back, they will receive an Emergency Alert System message on their radio and TV today — but it is only a test.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy reminds residents that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 2 p.m.

David York, Emergency Management director for the town of Monroe, reflected on how his town had sent out Code Red emergency notifications to its residents on a daily basis last week.

"I think we've been over notifed in a sense," York said Wednesday of how people must feel with all the town has gone through over the past week.

While he acknowleged that the date for the national test falls on an ironic time for New England, York said if it had been scheduled on a different date it could have been after a tornado hit Kansas.

York said the EOS has been used by individual states during times of crisis, but never for a national emergency.

"This is a system that has been in place. Each state has tested it," he said. "Everyone is getting excited about it. It's a two or three minute test on the radio. It's been in place, but this is the very first national test."

What is the EAS?

The EAS is a national alert and warning system established to enable the President of the United States to address the American public during emergencies. The National Weather Service, governors and state and local emergency authorities can also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts, according to a press release issued by Malloy's office.

"This nationwide test will enable us to determine the reliability of the system and its effectiveness in notifying the public of emergencies and potential dangers nationally and regionally," Malloy explained.

"This event also serves as a reminder that all individuals, families and businesses should establish an emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan," he added. "Personal preparedness is essential to our resiliency to any emergency."

Similar to statewide EAS tests that are conducted frequently, the nationwide test will involve broadcast radio and television stations, cable television, satellite radio and television services and wireline video service providers across all states and the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

On Wednesday, the public will hear a message indicating, "This is a test."

The audio message will be the same for both radio and television. Under the FCC's rules, radio and television broadcasters, cable operators, satellite digital audio radio service providers, direct broadcast satellite service providers and wireline video service providers are required to receive and transmit presidential EAS messages to the public. The test is expected to last approximately 30-60 seconds.

Just an Intermission

York said some people in his town thought the test would be accompanied by a drill and would disrupt Monroe's first responders, but he added none of that is the case.

"I think the townspeople have been confused by some of the information," he said. "It's not going to disrupt anything. There is no drill other than what's done on radio and TV and through the media."

York added, "This is just an intermission and life will go on as is with little or no interruption. There should be a national capability. That's why they're testing. Better to test when you don't need it than when you do need it."

Zeke November 10, 2011 at 10:40 PM
Much ado about nothing.
G November 11, 2011 at 12:54 AM
Pabalive - We had 9/11. And the EAS wasn't used then. If not then, then when? They've been testing this system since the 60's and have never used it. If I was a foreign leader intent on attacking the U.S., I'd first knock out the power grid and communications - apparently not a very difficult task based upon last week's experience. For all I knew, Chicago could have been hit by a nuclear blast last week and WICC (the only local "CT news" station in the area) would have kept on airing Dennis Miller and Clarke Howard. My landline phone was out, cell phone was out until last Thursday, We'd be better off using smoke signals. Within minutes of a successful national attack, there would be no way our President could speak to the country over the airwaves.
QWERTY November 11, 2011 at 01:55 AM
What is there to test exactly? And why does it need to be done once a day, week, whatever? Test is once a month at 4 AM and be done with it. Surely there's an easier way to implement testing that doesn't require the vast majority of the public to be so accustomed to it that most don't even pay attention to it. Maybe if this country focused its testing on more important things we wouldn't be having major bridges collapsing.
margaretta November 11, 2011 at 02:48 AM
Just as effective as all the messages our voice mail received during the power outage, how were we to know which shelter was open, if we had no power or phone? Plus, they left a bunch of messages giving us updates! Just doesn't make sense. Meg
Jenna November 11, 2011 at 01:54 PM
You can easily get the code red to call your cell phone. I had mine set up that way and I received the messages every day. The code red is not the same as national emergency tests. The code red is meant to keep you aware of the ongoing situation within town. Every town uses them. It's the easiest way for the town to communicate with the community (if everyone sets it up). They kept us updated on CL&P, tree removals, available shelters, where to get water and meals, and where you can take showers.

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