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Reviews are Coming In – The Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System

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Posted By: Rachel Racusen, Director of Public Affairs

As FEMA and the FCC continue to collect feedback about yesterday’s nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, we’re getting a lot of questions about how the test was received. Yesterday’s test served its intended purpose – to identify gaps and generate a comprehensive set of data to help strengthen our ability to communicate during real emergencies.

We have already begun to receive information indicating that while the test was received by thousands of test participants across the country, there were some instances in which the test apparently was not received by some participants and/or not re-broadcast to the public. In addition, we have received some feedback regarding audio quality. We take these shortcomings seriously and intend to work closely with all participants over the next several weeks as we assess the nature of problems with the nationwide test and how best to address them effectively.

While we will continue to get more data and test results back from participants over the coming days and weeks, we thought we’d share some of the reviews we’re seeing about where the test worked, where it didn’t – and where we can make improvements.

And remember, FEMA is also interested in hearing from all our stakeholders who want to share feedback about how the test was or wasn’t received in your area. We encourage you to email us at

Here’s a snapshot of some of the reviews I mentioned:

Today’s test is a major step forward toward a better system. What we’ve got today is not by any means a perfect warning system. Our alerting capacity is definitely going up at a national level with this test, but our warning capacity – that is, the ability to motivate the public to take protective action – needs a lot more work.” -- Dennis Mileti, Former Director of the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder [Emergency Alert System: Why US Is Doing First National Test Now, Christian Science Monitor, November 9]

At FOX6 Wednesday, the test worked just as it should. John Workman, FOX6’s engineering vice-president says testing the system is very important. ‘I fully expect the FCC and FEMA will release some kind of report, analyzing the results of this, and what they found, and what they see as areas that may need to be fixed,’ he said. [Nationwide EAS Test: Challenges Experienced During Wednesday’s Nationwide Emergency Alert Test, WITI-TV (WI), Nov. 9]

Indiana Homeland Security Emergency Response Director Arvin Copeland says it’s crucial that Hoosiers are aware of the tests. Copeland says the goal is to remind people that the emergency alert system exists to alert people about true emergencies.” Indiana Homeland Security Emergency Response Director [Feds Test Emergency Alert System, WIBC-FM (IN), Nov. 9]

The purpose of the Emergency Alert test, is to see how prepared the United States is in the event of a natural disaster, or terrorist attack. The test was not without flaws. Most states got the alert at the scheduled time, but others did not. After all, the purpose of the test is to find out how well the system would work in an actual emergency.[Nationwide Emergency Alert Test Has Some Glitches, WDBJ-TV Roanoke (VA), November 9]

There were no calls to 911. It seemed like people were well aware and watching the local media. It seemed like it was well-explained. We’ve seen no issue.-- Randy Gockley, Lancaster County’s Emergency Management Coordinator [Emergency System Tested, Lancaster (PA) New Era, November 9, 2011]

Here in Florida, officials at our local Emergency Operations centers watched to make sure it worked the way it should. The Brevard County EOC has been in touch with national authorities like FEMA and the FCC to help spread the word about the 30 second NAS test. Past national disasters proved the lack of communication on the federal, state and local levels. But officials say with this new method, important information can be relayed to the masses quickly and concisely. ‘It’s critical we share in information both up the chain and down the chain,’” – Kimberly Prosser, Brevard County Spokesperson (FL)
[Government Conducts First Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test, Central Florida News 13, November 9]

It’s important in emergency management and communication to the public that we test our systems to ensure that they do operate as designed so when we need them they are there and we can count on them.” – Bryan Koon, Florida State Emergency Management Director [Did Emergency Alert System Test Work? FEMA Not Sure Yet, WTSP-TV St. Petersburg (FL), November 9]
Last Updated: 
06/18/2012 - 15:28


here in hale mich cable hit all channels radeo dident go also dident hit my noaa radeo<br /><br /><br /> Mike Hilliker<br /> Plainfield tshp fire department

In Houston Texas we monitored 1 TV station (KHOU) and 1 radio station (KODA-FM). Both broadcast the alert but not at the same time. KHOU was spot on based on UTC but KODA seems to be using a different clock than the national time standard and started much later.

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