National emergency activation test today - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

National emergency activation test today

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is conducting the first-ever nationwide test or the nation's Emergency Alert System this afternoon.

State and local authorities have long used the alert system to warn of oncoming storms or child abductions. But today's 30-second test at 2 p.m. Eastern Time is the first time it's been activated nationally.

In the event of a terrorist attack or other major disaster, a president could use it to make an official announcement.

FEMA chief Craig Fugate warns some video systems MAY make it look like a real emergency. Fugate says that and other flaws are being addressed.

Officials are confident there'll no be no repeat of the Cold War scare of 1971 when a teletype operator sent the wrong message to the old Emergency Broadcast System -- and stations across the country either went off the air or began emergency operations.

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