Saturday, September 10, 2011

This Is A Test

This is a test
It is only a test
If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed to tune into one of the broadcast stations in your area  ...

The Emergency Broadcast System was put into place in 1963 as a means for the President to warn us citizens of any impending doom in the form of war or grave national crisis.  Over the years, it evolved into use by state and local governments.  The EBS was never used for a national emergency, most of its use was to broadcast civil emergency messages and to warn of severe weather.

There was, however, a false alarm in 1971 when a teletype operator used a wrong message during a test.  In an attempt to correct the false alarm, another false alarm was sent through the system.  On the third try, almost forty-five minutes later, the correct codeword was used and the alert(s) were properly cancelled.

This brought to light quite a few flaws in the system:
1) many TV and radio stations never received the alert(s) and
B) the majority of those that did either ignored it or didn't know what to do.

The Emergency Alert System replaced the EBS in 1997.  Not surprisingly, in the effort to make the alert system better, it was actually made more convoluted.

There are four parts to an EAS message ...
1) A header that determines who initiated the alert.  It could be the President, the National Weather Service, or the local librarian to tell you that your books are overdue.
2) An attention signal that lasts anywhere from eight to twenty-five seconds.
3) A disembodied voice with the details.
4) An end of message tone.

The system is now up to eighty different types of events that are allowed to be broadcast as emergency warnings.  It is interesting to note that the system was not activated on September 11.

This little lesson in our emergency notification system blossomed from me trying to activate the 'comments' section on my blog.

Have the BEST day ever!
~ Dorothy

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