Emergency Preparedness and Response

Emergency Preparedness & Response

The Department of Emergency Preparedness and Response consists of two divisions which are also the central point of contact for Emergency Management and Emergency Communications (911).

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Oct 02

Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) 'Presidential Alert' Test

Posted on October 2, 2018 at 3:09 PM by Jim Redick

There have been several suggestive headlines referencing the 10/3/18 test of the WEA.  It’s the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) which has been in place since 2012. Have you ever received an unfamiliar ringtone or vibration on your cell with an alert message? That’s WEA. There is mandatory training and strict criteria as to how and when it can be used. Details available at Ready.gov/alerts, https://www.fema.gov/frequently-asked-questions-wireless-emergency-alerts, as well as https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/wireless-emergency-alerts-wea

Per the FCC, while launched in 2012, it was established in 2008 pursuant to the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act.  There are three critical emergency criteria for which it can be used: alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life, AMBER alerts, or Presidential alerts.  You have likely received such alerts pertaining to hazardous weather and/or an AMBER alert.  Those are geographically-targeted message which do not necessarily stress the system; the October 3 Presidential Alert test will. 

This ‘Presidential Alert’ test should not be considered or seen by anyone as a political act.  Instead, I would humbly ask folks to take the opportunity to become more aware of the WEA technology as well as Norfolk Alert here in our community: https://www.norfolk.gov/index.aspx?nid=4137. (For those who live/work outside of Norfolk, visit http://readyhamptonroads.org/ to find your locality's alert system).  Some incidents will require a Norfolk Alert and some a Wireless Emergency Alert and thus you should be familiar with both.  As far as any political concerns go, put me on the record for believing emphatically alert systems must never be used for political messages. Ever. And if that were to occur, it would be a profound disappointment and render the tool worthless.

Lastly, please remember we should talk with our children about such preparedness-related issues so they too can be informed.  FEMA has an activity brochure focused on WEA available here.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Thank you!

Jim

Jim Redick
Director, Norfolk EOC
james.redick@norfolk.gov