HAP Blog

What We Can Learn from the Nationwide Emergency Alert Test

October 02, 2023

This week, you might notice an unexpected message from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission recently announced they would conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts.

The television, radio, and cell phone tests will take place at 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday. For consumers, the message that appears on their phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The test offers another reminder of the importance of timely emergency communications. As emergency managers, we give people critical information that offers reassurance during challenging times, whether it’s during an active shooter emergency, a severe weather incident, or a natural disaster.

Here are some key questions to include on your emergency communications check list:

  • Which incidents should prompt use of your emergency communications alert system?
  • Do you have the right staff trained to deploy your emergency communications in the event of emergency? How quickly can you react and send an alert in the event of a crisis?
  • When was the last time you conducted a test of your emergency alert system?
  • Which emergencies merit follow up and who is involved in the content of those messages?
  • Is access to your emergency communications alert system secure, preventing this critical communication tool from falling into the wrong hands?
  • Does your emergency alert system deliver messages in more than one way to ensure they are received in all environments (text, overhead paging, visual displays, voice messaging)? Having redundant methods is a best practice.

When you’re in the middle of an emergency, it’s not easy to think of the exact right thing to say at the exact right time. Having a concrete plan will ensure everyone has the information they need.

Additional information about the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System is available online.

For questions, don’t hesitate to contact me or a member of HAP’s emergency management team.

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