Strong language comes from the head of a broadcast group about emergency management’s knowledge of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The head of the Maine Association of Broadcasters recently testified before Congress that it’s “unacceptable that some local emergency managers remain unaware of the benefits of EAS, or how and when to trigger an EAS alert”. Suzanne Goucher told the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications that, “Clearly, many state and local authorities need additional training on the proper use of EAS and the proper crafting of alert messages.”
A training program is being developed by FEMA’s IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System) to help local officials be more effective with EAS. Goucher told the subcommittee that “we applaud this initiative”. In our recent post, she called EAS training a “huge leap forward”.
To us, it seems like EAS awareness and use varies quite starkly from place-to-place, even state-to-state. As we’ve said before in earlier posts (i.e. "EMA Directors and Broadcasters Unite!"), this is a perfect time for public safety officials to bone up on EAS, and meet with local EAS participants (broadcasters, cable operators, etc) to talk about how EAS can be made more effective.
The upcoming national EAS test makes this need for dialogue even more critical. Perhaps like a broken record, we’ve been repeating that cooperative outreach between EAS participants and public safety is absolutely necessary. (See "Lessons Learned in Alaska Have Implications..."). If not, some of the public will freak out when the national test is conducted on November 9th at 2pm eastern time. No matter where they tune, they’ll hear the attention-getting tones at the same time. This has never happened before…never.
So, if you’re not doing it already, plan a sit down soon with local EAS participants. You can bet they’ll be willing to talk, considering the fact the national EAS test and other new EAS requirements have created tremendous buzz among their peers in the broadcast and cable industries.
Hmm, there may well be more buzz among EAS participants than among public safety officials – the real beneficiaries of EAS.
All the best,