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Rudman Responds to Mustoe EAS Editorial

I am sorry Dr. Mustoe did not more fully research the issue before writing the piece.

I suppose I should have been flattered that a statement I made about the national level of EAS was quoted in Dr. Marian Mustoe’s posting. I was not. Like some other items cited, Mustoe took my statement out of context. First, a correction. I was the chair of the FCC’s chartered EAS National Advisory Committee (NAC) when I made my statement, not the “FCC EAS Chair.”

I am sorry Dr. Mustoe did not more fully research the issue before writing a piece that is itself unfortunately filled with a “farraginous” disconnected series of misinformation and half-truths.

The EAN was conceived as a last-ditch method for federal government communication to as large a group of the American public as possible when other means are not available, hence the rest of the story left out of my statement that was partially quoted. The EAN has never been used for real, and hopefully, it will never be. The way to issue an EAN was and is based on using the most resilient form of mass communication distribution we have at this time, AM radio. Are there qualified broadcast experts now working at the federal level who have a better understanding of how the EAN can better make use of the resiliency of distribution AM radio broadcasting? Definitely YES! Did the EAN need testing to establish a benchmark for moving forward? Were problems exposed in the test that should be fixed? Also YES!

With further research, Dr. Mustoe would have come across reports I contributed to, issued by the Partnership For Public Warning, Inc. (PPW) as one of its 17 founding Trustees. We formed the PPW after September 11 to come up with a true national warning strategy for the United States. Aside from writing an accurate and well-researched history of emergency public warnings in the United States, the PPW came up with the idea for a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), the driving force for better warnings in the future using not only broadcasting, but all ways to get needed survival information to people at risk.

So, I would be delighted to brief Dr. Mustoe on more than 60 years of serious and well-documented research done on warnings, explain that the CAP has not yet been launched as part of the EAS EAN or for local/state activations, and that what we need more than anything now is a public/private partnership that can help solve issues Mustoe did correctly identify that need to be fixed at all levels of our national, state and local public warning structure.

We all need to be pushing on the same side of the rock to do this. The “rock” that has to be moved represents the many barriers we face to provide more timely and accurate information to people at risk using all possible warning means (not just broadcasting). The goal: Allow people at risk to take protective action to save lives and property, and be better reassured that emergency management at all levels is on the job.