Will you be in the National Capital Region on Thursday, April 5, between 10-11 a.m.? If so, chances are extremely high that you will be part of the country’s first regional Wireless Emergency Alerts system test using geo-target capabilities.
Twenty jurisdictions, including Arlington County, will simultaneously issue a test message to the public through the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system. Cell phones or other mobile devices in the participating jurisdictions will receive the following message: “A test of the Arlington County Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action required.” WEA triggers a loud noise and text message on cell phones and enabled mobile devices.
It’s extremely possible during this exercise that individuals may receive more than one WEA message. During an actual emergency, officials are committed to providing critical life-saving information; therefore, there is no exclusivity to this responsibility. We want to ensure the safety of the public which means we will communicate as much as possible in as many ways as possible.
Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems help assess the operational readiness of the system and identify any improvements. Public safety officials need to be sure that in times of an emergency or disaster, they have reliable methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public. Conducting a regional test supports the continued use, training, and improvement of the WEA system.
Since its launch in 2012, the WEA system has been used more than 33,000 times nationwide to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations.
The 20 local jurisdictions participating in the April 5 test include: City of Alexandria, City of Bowie, City of College Park, City of Fairfax, City of Falls Church, City of Gaithersburg, City of Greenbelt, City of Takoma Park, City of Manassas, City of Manassas Park, City of Rockville, District of Columbia, Arlington County, Charles County, Fairfax County, Frederick County, Loudoun County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Prince William County.