U.S. emergency agency tests alert system despite court challenge and mockery

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Getty Image

We can mute the tangerine menace that is our "President" Donald Trump on Twitter and Instagram but thanks to a new alert system he will be contacting you directly.

Federal agencies also plan to broadcast minute-long test messages on television and radio at 2:20 p.m. Eastern called the "Presidential Alert" stating "THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System.No action is needed".

The test occurred at 2:18 p.m. EDT.

"Presidential Alert: THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System".

"The Communications Act of 1934 established the authority for the President to use certain private sector communications systems for priority communications, such as sending alert and warning messages to the public, during national emergencies", said FEMA in a FAQ explaining the test. The EAS is a national public warning system that allows the President the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency via radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers.

Fema officials estimated that about 225 million devices would receive the alert at about the same time, but the message was broadcast by mobile towers for 30 minutes so some people got it later than others.

Please note the following information: "Handsets that receive an alert will initiate a special tone and vibration, both repeated twice".

"This nationwide test is a great opportunity to see how well one of the important tools governments use to communicate with residents during an emergency works", Ashbridge said. The alert system, called "Wireless Emergency Alert" could potentially be used for critical situations ranging from unsafe weather conditions to missile attacks.

In a real emergency, devices would get the alert at the same time or as close to the same time as possible.

The wireless alert system was launched in 2012.

"This is a federal test and has nothing to do with any local alert sign-up services", Ashbridge said.

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