Emergency Alert System Nationwide Test

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 08:44


November 3, 2011
Gary Jenkins, Chief of Police
Pullman Police Department
(509) 334-0802

Emergency Alert System Nationwide Test (with update)

PULLMAN – The first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will take place on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time). The purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the system in alerting the public. The FCC originally indicated that the test will last approximately 3 minutes. However the FCC is now reporting that the test will last between 30 and 60 seconds.

The Emergency Alert System is a media communications-based alerting system that is designed to transmit emergency alerts and warnings to the American public at the national, Tribal, state and local levels. EAS participants broadcast alerts and warnings regarding weather threats, child abductions and other types of emergencies. EAS alerts are transmitted over television and radio broadcast, satellite television and satellite radio, cable television and wireline video services.

While local and state components of the EAS are tested on a weekly and monthly basis, there has never been an end-to-end nationwide test of the system. The nationwide test will ensure 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.

Although the nationwide EAS test may resemble the periodic monthly EAS tests that most of the public is familiar with, there will be some differences in what the public may see or hear. During the test, the public will hear a message indicating “this is a test”. The audio message will be the same for everyone, however due to limitations of the EAS, the video test message may not be the same and may not indicate “this is a test”. This is due to the use of a “live” national code – the same code that would be used in an actual emergency. Also, the background image that appears on video screens may indicate “this is a test” but in some cases there may be no image at all. FEMA and the FCC plan to reach out to organizations representing people with hearing disabilities to prepare that community for the national test. In addition, FEMA and the FCC will work with EAS participants to explore whether there are solutions to address this limitation.

For more information about EAS, visit the FCC’s EAS webpage at:

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