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Alaska Tests Nation's Emergency Alert System

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Today, for the first time, the Federal Emergency Management Agency tested the national emergency alert system. The test took place in Alaska. It made use of a code that, in a real emergency, would allow the president to address the entire nation.

Annie Feidt of the Alaska Public Radio Network tells us how the test went.

ANNIE FEIDT: For more than two weeks, Alaskans tuning in to radio and TV have heard this message...

(Soundbite of broadcast)

Unidentified Man #1: Stop and chill. It's just a drill. On January 6th at approximately 10 a.m., Alaska will participate in the first ever test of the EAN system that can alert the entire nation in the event of an emergency.

FEIDT: Emergencies are something of a specialty for Alaska, there are just so many of them to deal with.

Mr. JEREMY ZIDEK (Alaska Department of Homeland Security): We have volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, severe weather.

FEIDT: That's Jeremy Zidek with the Alaska Department of Homeland Security. He says all those potential disasters made Alaska the perfect place to test the national alert system.

Mr. ZIDEK: We've got a pretty well-oiled machine, and I think that's why the federal government chose Alaska as a test bed for this national test of the emergency alert system.

FEIDT: In the event of a real national emergency, the White House would activate an address from the president to be sent out across the country. It was just after 10 a.m. today when the test appeared on radio stations and television screens in Alaska.

(Soundbite of broadcast)

Unidentified Man #2: Test, test, test. This is a test of the emergency alert system. The message you are hearing is part of a live code test of national emergency alert system capabilities limited to the state of Alaska only.

FEIDT: Zidek says, for the most part, the test went well, although a few stations didn't receive the message.

Mr. ZIDEK: There were some minor problems with, you know, different stations throughout Alaska, but they were a very small percentage. And most of the stations rebroadcast the message loud and clear.

FEIDT: The state's Department of Homeland Security is hoping more feedback on the test comes in from Alaska residents in the days ahead.

For NPR News, I'm Annie Feidt in Anchorage. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Annie Feidt