Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency say they plan to do the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System on Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST. The Emergency Alert System has been used on a local level for Cities and States, but never on a nationwide scale. The test will be transmitted via television and radio for 30 seconds up to 3 1/2 minutes and will sound like the normal emergency alert test.
The Federal Communications Commission said in a statement:
“There has never been an end-to-end, nationwide test of the system, and we need to know that the system will work as intended should public safety officials ever need to send an alert or warning to a large region of the United States.”
In a joint statement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) they said; the alert is to help ensure the nation is prepared for any type of emergency and to guide and inform the public in any important information if necessary. The national system could be necessary in a major disaster like an earthquake or a tsunami to send life-saving information to the public.
“The various disasters our country has faced this year underscore the need for effective and well-tested emergency alert and warning systems that could be used in a time of real emergency, at a moment’s notice,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reported. “The purpose of the test is to allow FEMA and the FCC to assess how well the Emergency Alert System would perform its primary function: alerting the public about a national emergency.”
The FCC said, “Consequently, many viewers, particularly cable television subscribers, will see the emergency alert on the screen that is accompanied by an audio explanation that ‘this is only a test,’ but may not see a corresponding visual message that ‘this is only a test.’
The emergency alert system is about 50 years old and is tested frequently locally and state wide. The Emergency Alert System allows the U.S. president, as well as state and local authorities, to broadcast warnings about disasters, severe weather and other emergencies like Amber Alerts.
U.S. agencies want to stress, this is just a test on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 for the nationwide emergency broadcast system.
Here is the Emergency Broadcast System Sound: