Wednesday’s Emergency Alert Is Only A Test
Cell phones and other devices will issue emergency alert Wednesday.
If everything goes according to plan, cellphone holders across the U.S. will receive an emergency alert Wednesday at approximately 1:20 p.m. from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
But it’s only a drill by FEMA, testing its nationwide Emergency Alert System. And all organizations participating in the system will be involved. This includes “radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers and wireline video providers,” according to Wisconsin Emergency Management, which is administering the test in Wisconsin.
The Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) uses the same system to disseminate alerts locally. The county agency warned that “multiple modes of communication” will all simultaneously issue the test warning Wednesday.
“It is likely that cell phones, tablets, radios, television, and other devices within a household or location will be alerted at the same time,” OEM said in a statement Tuesday. “This will be a test of the entire system and while it will be loud and distracting, it is vital that this technology is tested to ensure the government’s ability to alert the public during emergencies.”
In the past, tests of the nationwide alert system went only to those who opted into the test. Not this time. The warning will blare for everyone Wednesday, reading, “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”
In 2018, the alert system caused widespread panic in Hawaii when a warning of an incoming ballistic missile was accidentally issued. The error made national news.
In 2022, the county’s OEM issued a “shelter in place” alert before 4 a.m. on a Wednesday morning after a Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriff was shot. The alert was issued countywide, and it accidentally went to some residents outside of Milwaukee County.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.