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Nevada Tests EAS

Minor problems, but overall ‘a good experience,’ says SECC chair

There’s good news from Nevada about the state’s first statewide EAS test — a potential harbinger for the upcoming national EAS test on Nov. 9.

“We had a wonderful experience,” Adrienne Abbott, chair of the Nevada Emergency Communications Committee, told me.

Before 1 p.m. local time, FEMA originated and deliver a Required Monthly Test message to Primary Entry Point stations KKOH(AM), Reno and KDWN(AM), Las Vegas, as had been planned. From there, it was re-broadcast on a total of about 200 radio and TV stations in Nevada as well as the eastern third of California and northern Arizona.

She’s still compiling information, but overall the test went well, Abbott said. The test was not received in a couple of isolated communities. “We know it wasn’t heard because we were on the phone with the engineers,” she said. One station that had completed a monthly test earlier experienced problems yesterday; Abbott suspects that its EAS encoder/decoder may have had a weak battery.

There was a conference line for participating stations during the test; Abbott says this approach was invaluable. “It was easier to communicate with them about the test and ask: ‘Did you get it? What was the audio quality?’ That provided great feedback.”

There were some equipment hiccups as stations get used to new CAP-EAS gear. For most stations using new CAP EAS encoders/decoders, the RMT was received and went right out to re-join programming at 1:05 p.m. local time. However, some automated stations have programmed a test “hold” in their EAS gear and were surprised about how long it took to re-transmit the test, Abbott said. That occurred maybe 10 minutes later instead of two in some instances.

“We knew with the older equipment what would happen. Apparently with the newer gear it’s not as cut and dried as before,” she said. “I can’t say whether it’s better or worse, it’s just different.” The test was a chance to find out if the programming in the EAS unit works, she added.

Many groups were involved in the test, including broadcast stations, the Nevada Broadcasters Association, the EAS Committee of the Nevada SECC, FEMA, the Nevada Division of Emergency Management, the Washoe County Office of Emergency Management, the City of Las Vegas Office of Emergency Management and the Clark County Office of Emergency Management.

We’ll hear more about the test in a FEMA webinar slated for Friday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.