Alaska Prepares for First Test of Presidential Alert

FORT RICHARDSON, ALASKA: The broadcast Emergency Alert system test scheduled to take place tomorrow across the State of Alaska is ready to be conducted. The Alaska Broadcasters’ Association, in conjunction with the State of Alaska, the FCC and the Federal Emergency Management System, will conduct the statewide exercise at 10 a.m. local time. TV and radio stations and cable systems across Alaska will participate in the test intended to help the feds evaluate the system. The State started telling residents of Alaska about the impending tests Dec. 21.

“This test will be similar to live code testing conducted each year for the Tsunami Warning System and the Amber Alert System,” the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Web site stated. “Unlike Alaska’s Tsunami and Amber Alert tests, this event will exercise the EAN--Emergency Action Notification--event code.”

The EAN is specifically reserved for presidential emergency messages and has never been officially tested. Alaska was selected for the test because of its geographic isolation from the contiguous United States and its successful Amber Alerts and tsunami tests.

“Several broadcasters have asked if there is any technical adjustment of the EAS equipment needed before the exercise,” the state agency said. “We are being told no. The other common question is, ‘What happens if my equipment does not forward the EAN?’ This is part of what the exercise is all about. The mission is to determine problems, if any, with the technical architecture or hardware itself.”

The FCC pledged not to take enforcement action against any participating broadcaster that affects a violation of EAS rules. The test will last between two and three minutes, longer than the typical EAS test.

(Image by Wally Gobetz)