For the first time ever in history there will be a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to be conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. This alert system has been in place for the past 60 years but has never been used. The test will begin at 1pm today and only last for 30 seconds - it was initially going to be 3 minutes long but there were concerns that people would begin to panic and think there was a real emergency.
Two years in the planning, the minutelong drill is designed to expose weaknesses in a 60-year-old readiness system that has never been used — not even on 9/11.This warning system seems to be a useful thing to have, although evidently we've made it this far just fine without needing it - but we could imagine some scenarios in which it could help. And actually we're glad that this hasn't been used yet, because it's one of those things that could get out of hand very quickly and become overused for events that are barely emergencies.
“Coming from the military, what you do is you prepare for conflict,” Barnett said. “You test your system. You train your folks. When they told me this had never been tested I said, ‘How do you know it works?’ ”
Now maybe we're being naive here, but just how hard is it for the government to send out an emergency message over television and radio airways? This has been 2 years in planning, really? Of all the great things we're able to accomplish as a nation, somehow sending out a simple 30 second message is this huge endeavor that takes years of planning. It better go right tomorrow because that would really be pathetic if we fucked this up. On the other hand, just how necessary is this type of alert system? Evidently no events in the past 60 years, including the 9-11 World Trade Center attacks, were important or urgent enough to warrant using it. And it seems to me that if anything were to be more serious and more urgent than anything we've ever experienced over the past 60 years, wouldn't the news and television media already be talking about it? Plus with the internet and mobile devices being as commonplace as they are today, people are more connected to current events and up-to-date on emergency information than ever before.
9-11 dispatch centers all across the country are preparing themselves and bracing for a flood of calls from people confused by the warnings, which could make it difficult for people with real emergencies to get through. Let's help everything goes smoothly.