Potter County EMA Part Of Wednesday’s National Drill

From Potter County Today

emergency-alert-systemOn Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 2 pm, the federal government will conduct the first-ever national test of the Emergency Alert System. Television and radio stations across the country will air the familiar “This is only a test” message for 30 seconds, though some television stations may not show the text of the same message.

Some form of the EAS has been tested at the local level for more than 50 years, but there has never been a national test to alert all citizens of an emergency. Now, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association will participate in the nationwide test to allow FEMA and the FCC to assess how well the EAS would alert Americans about a national emergency.

Potter County Emergency Management Agency will monitor the 30-second test to ensure all local emergency alerts through radio, television and computers are functioning properly. The first national test will be no different from any of the tests done on a statewide level and the test is a good opportunity for residents to make sure emergency alert radios are working properly.

According to FEMA, previous lapses in the EAS included the inability to support open or closed captioning, translations or other tools to make the test more accessible. That is why on Wednesday many cable television subscribers will see the alert and hear the audio explanation “this is only a test,” but they may not see the visual message of “this is only a test.”

FEMA wants to inform people about the test ahead of time so they are not alarmed when the test takes place on Nov. 9, Neil McDevitt of FEMA said. “For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, they will not hear this voice. Likewise, people who are blind or have low-vision will hear the voice saying it is just a test but they may not understand what the test is about. People with cognitive or intellectual disabilities may have difficulty understanding how the test applies to them. These limitations come from the older systems that are being used for these tests and we know they’re not as accessible as we’d like them to be,” McDevitt said.

Potter County Today is a timely information site courtesy of the Potter County Commissioners. Reprinted with Permission.

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