Puerto Rico Originates First EAS Test Message

FEMA says some 78% of stations took part
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FEMA says some 78% of stations took part

The Puerto Rican government originated an EAS test message for the first time ever during the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. It was the first time an EAS message was originated from territory's Emergency Management Agency.

Previously, the commonwealth used NOAA Weather Radio to originate EAS alerts, says FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Program Manager Manny Centeno. FEMA, broadcasters and cable operators helped the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency transmit a test message on Aug. 24. The hurricane hit the island on Aug., 21 and 22, leaving more than one million residents without power.

Some 78% of the 80 radio and television stations relayed the test, Centeno said, during an EAS webinar Thursday. In the capital city San Juan, the figure was higher, at 89%.

The Puerto Rican test was the most recent EAS alert approximating a national message since January. Participants were able to test several aspects of EAS — such as the timing of an alert and how to transmit one on multiple HD Radio stations — elements that will help as broadcasters prepare for the upcoming Nov. 9 national test, Centeno said.

Several states are asking FEMA’s help to conduct their own EAS tests before this fall's national test. Centeno said a few will be conducted, without specifying which ones or their order.

Representatives for EAS equipment manufacturers were available during the webinar to answer questions. They expect to have information on their websites soon regarding their own equipment related to the national test, such as how to drive EAS over multiple streams, for those stations transmitting an HD signal over several multicast channels, for example.

— Leslie Stimson