Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Virgin Islands broadcasters will participate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency, NOAA, and the Federal Communications Commission’s first-ever, top-to-bottom, nationwide test of the national Emergency Alert System, according to a statement from the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA).
FEMA and the FCC are working to ensure that the system will operate as intended should public safety officials ever need to send an alert or warning to a large region of the United States. Only a top-down, simultaneous test of all components of the EAS on a nationwide basis can do this, according to VITEMA.
Local broadcasters including WSTA, WGOD, WIVH, and the WJKC family of radio stations along with Innovative Cable, are set to participate.
“We continue to encourage all broadcast stations to participate in this event,” VITEMA Director Elton Lewis said Monday. “The Emergency Alert System is an essential component for providing emergency notification in the event there is a national incident or emergency. The public should be able to rely on stations they listen to and watch to provide the notification.”
Wednesday at 3 p.m. FEMA will transmit the EAS code for national emergencies, which is expected to broadcast for 30 seconds. The EAS code and alert will be rebroadcast by V.I. broadcast stations and other services until it has been completely distributed to all participating stations in the territory.
The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system that can be activated by the president, if needed, to provide information to the American public during emergencies. NOAA’s National Weather Service, governors, and state and local emergency authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts.
The test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency, according to VITEMA.
EAS Participants are able to broadcast alerts and warnings regarding weather alerts, child abductions, and other types of emergencies, and EAS alerts are transmitted over radio and television broadcast stations, cable television, and other media services.
According to FEMA, NOAA, and the FCC, the purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the system as a way to alert the public during nationwide emergencies.