Nationwide emergency alert test slated for Wednesday

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Nationwide emergency alert test slated for Wednesday

Postby Tape Splicer » Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:13 pm

With the US Emergency Alert test set for Wednesday, it begs the question:
How does the Canadian system work, Do we tune into the local CBC station for emergency alerts?

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Nationwide emergency alert test slated for Wednesday
Published: Monday, November 07, 2011, 10:00 AM
By Matt Scallan, The Times-Picayune






On Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m., regularly scheduled programming on every operating television and radio in the country will be interrupted for an emergency alert that will sound for about 30 seconds. It will only be a drill, but it marks the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, which is used to broadcast messages in emergency situations.
The drill is designed to test a system that would allow the president or other federal officials to commandeer the airwaves in an emergency to warn of immediate danger such as a tsunami or earthquake to a regional or national audience, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Department of Homeland Security, Federal Communications Commission and National Weather Service are conducting the test.
"The plan is to have the alert to go off everywhere in the country at the same time," said Benjamin Burgoyne, section chief of communications for the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
Cable, satellite included
The alert will last about 30 seconds, and be broadcast over the air, as well as on cable and satellite providers. There are about 30,000 TV, radio, cable and satellite providers in the Emergency Alert System nationwide, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Because the alert will be triggered by federal officials, Wednesday's event will leave local emergency management officials sitting on their hands, except for perhaps answering calls from residents complaining about the interruption of their favorite shows.
"Even under the old Emergency Broadcast System, we were pushing (the message) up. This is the first time they will be pushing the message down," said Kathy Gilmore, St. John the Baptist Parish's acting public safety director.
Had it been in place, such a system might have been used during the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks, when there were concerns that there where more hijacked planes in the air, said Scott Whelchel, St. Charles Parish Emergency Preparedness director.
"Before, a national alert would involve working with 50 different partners and those would work independently of each other to convey vital information," he said. "If they ever activate the (national alert) system, we may get notice that it's coming, but we'll have to wait to find out what the message is just like everybody else."
Familiar message
On Wednesday, the message will resemble the monthly alerts used by local governments. But FEMA officials warn that while the audio of the message will say that the event is a test, the video may not say so in some cases because of the "live" national code used in the exercise.
Under the Federal Communications Commission's rules, radio and television broadcasters, cable operators, digital radio service providers, direct broadcast satellite service providers are required to receive and transmit presidential EAS messages to the public.
In the event of an actual crisis, local governments in this area would supplement the federal warning with text messages and reverse-911 calls if necessary. Many of the systems were put in place after Hurricane Katrina.
Jefferson Parish's reverse-911 system now can target the entire parish or a few blocks, said Timmy Gautreaux Jr., a coordinator with the Parish's Department of Emergency Management, an improvement over an early model that could only blanket the entire parish.
In conjunction with the test, St. Bernard Parish will test its Outdoor Emergency Siren System on Wednesday.
Additional information on the test can be found at the Federal Communications Commission's web site at www.fcc.gov/newsroom
Matt Scallan can be reached at mscallan@timespicayune.com or 985.652.0953.
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Re: Nationwide emergency alert test slated for Wednesday

Postby Tape Splicer » Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:28 pm

I know that CHNW 88.7 the low power FM community station for New Westminster is set up for local emergencies. What is the larger emergency broadcast plan in the lower mainland?

(I NOTE THAT IN THE ABOVE ARTICLE SETS THE TIME FOR THE TEST AT "1PM" EST - WHILE OTHER ARTICLES HAVE THE TIME SET AS "2PM EST")
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Re: Nationwide emergency alert test slated for Wednesday

Postby Tape Splicer » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:58 pm

On the NAB web site there is this page (use link) which has sample of NAB PSA's related to the test - along with other related information.
http://www.nab.org/documents/advocacy/EAS/EAS.asp
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