Emergency Alert System to conduct nationwide test today

Posted Nov. 09, 2011, at 11:40 a.m.
Last modified Nov. 09, 2011, at 12:36 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine radio and television stations and cable TV systems, along with satellite TV companies, will participate in the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System on Wednesday afternoon. The test, originating from Washington, D.C., will begin at approximately 2 p.m. and will last for about three and a half minutes.

During the test, the public will hear a message indicating “This is a test,” according to the Maine Department of Public Safety, Maine Emergency Management Agency and the Maine Association of Broadcasters. The audio message will be the same for radio, television and cable TV. However, television viewers will see a “text crawl” at the top of their TV screens that says, “The Primary Entry Point has issued an Emergency Action Notification for Washington, D.C., until 2:15 p.m.” TV viewers may or may not see other on-screen text indicating that the alert is a test.

The test will assess the federal government’s ability to send a message from Washington to all 50 states, not each state’s individual Emergency Alert System. Maine tests EAS statewide each month, and each station conducts an individual weekly test.

Also Wednesday, the University of Maine planned to conduct a full-scale emergency communications systems test shortly after noon. Outdoor sirens were to sound for several minutes. The sirens are audible throughout the UMaine campus and, under certain conditions, in parts of the surrounding communities.

On the UMaine campus, the siren is a signal that people on campus should seek information through the Web, telephone, text message, social media or First Class.

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