West Virginia to Test National Alert System Next Week - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

West Virginia to Test National Alert System Next Week




As part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) mission to strengthen preparedness and resiliency, FEMA is coordinating with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), West Virginia's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the West Virginia Broadcasters Association, wireless carriers and others to conduct a test of the Public Alert and Warning System.

Multiple communication pathways integrated into one Public Alert and Warning System will be tested in West Virginia on Wednesday, September 17, 2014. The test is expected to last approximately two minutes at 2:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time. Only through comprehensive testing and analyzing of our alerting technologies can we ensure that an effective and reliable system will exist to alert the residents of West Virginia if an emergency occurs.

The statewide test will verify the delivery of emergency alerts and assess the readiness of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), NOAA's All-Hazards Weather Radio, and unique alerting systems that monitor then redistribute alerts through real-time postings on the Internet. These include alert messages to Facebook, Twitter, websites, digital signs and specialized applications (APPS). Devices that serve people with access and functional needs can also pick up the redistributed alert messages through this unique system.

The test in West Virginia will be seen and heard by the public over radio, television and cable TV systems, with only minor disruptions in programming. It's designed to occur during the state's regular monthly Emergency Alert System (EAS) test conducted by local broadcasters. While the test will be conducted in the state of West Virginia, important stakeholders in the surrounding states will also be made aware of the test.

The West Virginia test message on September 17th will be the same as previous EAS test messages; with the word “National” added to the message:

“This is a National test of the Emergency Alert System. This is only a test. Broadcast and cable operators in your area have developed this system in voluntary cooperation with FEMA, the FCC and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the alert tone. This concludes this test of the National Emergency Alert System.”

WEA test messages will not disrupt or delay West Virginia cell phone service. The test will only be sent to field observers whose cell phones are programmed with special access codes.

In 2006, FEMA modernized the nation's Public Alert and Warning System by integrating new technologies into the existing alert system. The system, known to public safety officials as the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System or IPAWS, adopted a new format for emergency management professionals to send the same alert and warning message over multiple communication pathways at the same time, helping to save lives.

Public safety officials need to be sure that in times of an emergency or disaster, that the Public Alert and Warning System will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public when needed. Periodic testing of the Public Alert and Warning System's infrastructure is a way to analyze and determine what improvements in technologies need to be made.

One of the government's chief responsibilities is ensuring the safety and well-being of our citizens,” says U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall. “I'm proud that West Virginia was chosen to test this national, integrated system. Recent decades have seen dramatic growth in telecommunications technologies that open new and better avenues for rapidly disseminating information about brewing storms and hazardous conditions and doing so in an efficient and targeted way. This test and everything that goes into its evaluation will better prepare our state and our country for future emergencies.”

Rahall, who is the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that oversees FEMA, has worked to advance IPAWS. He is also a Congressional Co-Chair of National Preparedness Month, which marks its 11th year this September.

“While we can't prevent all disasters, there are steps we can take to reduce their impact,” said Rahall. “National Preparedness Month serves as a critical reminder to us all that no one is immune from a potential disaster and that having a plan in place for your family, workplace, and community can make a real difference. Being prepared for emergencies can save lives, and that's reason enough for us all to take stock of our situations and plan for the unforeseen," says Rahall.

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