Arizona initiates nationwide alerting system test

Arizona initiates nationwide alerting system test

  • Partners from FEMA and the Deputy Director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs prepare to launch the IPAWS national Emergency Alery System test
John Veatch, Assistant Administrator for FEMA National Continuity Programs, Wendy Smith-Reeve, Deputy Director for the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, and Wade Witmer, Deputy Director for the FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) prepare to launch the IPAWS national Emergency Alert System test.
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BEEP, BEEP, BEEP . . . .this is a national test.

Broadcasters from radio, television and cable stations nationwide participated in a test of the Emergency Alert System on Sept. 27, 2017.  Arizona hosted the national test, this was the third time the test was conducted simultaneously across the nation, and the first time the test was initiated outside of Washington, D.C.

Regular testing ensures public safety officials have the methods and systems to deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public in times of an emergency or disaster.  During the 2017 test, it took only three seconds from sending the message with a mouse click to the retrieval from participating broadcasters. In light of recent disasters, such as Hurricanes Irma and Maria, testing emergency warning systems periodically determines if responses to emergencies are operationally functional and effective. 

“Sending information in an emergency can help residents know what actions to take to be safe,” said Wendy Smith-Reeve, deputy director for the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.  “The Emergency Alert System is one of the tools we use to share emergency information in a timely and efficient manner to the public.”

The Emergency Alert System and the Wireless Emergency Alerts are part of a national alert and warning infrastructure called the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System; designed to allow altering authorities from local, state, tribal and federal governments to send emergency alerts to the public.  Qualified altering authorities go through a series of steps to integrate into the system and learn how and when to activate.

Officials will assess the results of the national test to ensure operational readiness of the infrastructure and determine whether technological improvements are needed.

The 2017 national Emergency Alert System test was launched during the National Emergency Management Association Annual Forum in Scottsdale.  The Annual Forum provides opportunities for emergency management professionals from around the country to discuss national and regional emergency management strategies.