Syndicated by: Montana News
HELENA – The City of Helena and Lewis and Clark County has been granted a waiver by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a one-time live test of our wireless emergency alert (WEA) capabilities. The WEA test is planned for Wednesday April 10, 2019 at 11 AM with a back-up date of Wednesday April 17, 2019 at 11 AM and would occur exclusively within Lewis and Clark County, Montana. The live test will expire 30 minutes after its initiation and it will not include the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
The WEA system allows the City of Helena and Lewis and Clark County to send geographically targeted emergency alerts to wireless subscribers who have WEA-capable mobile devices. The FCC requires all wireless carriers that do not participate in WEA to notify its customers. Consumers can check with their wireless carriers to determine the extent to which they are offering WEA.
The live test message will be sent through the WEA portion of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and is intended to alert all enabled wireless telephones within the geographic boundaries of Lewis and Clark County, Montana. The test message will read, “A test of Lewis and Clark County’s Wireless Emergency Alert system. No action required”. Upon receipt of the test message, the public is not required to take any corrective measures, dial 911 or contact public safety in any manner.
Public safety officials and an emergency management team are tasked with public information and warning, which includes alerts and notifications to the community during emergencies that impact life, safety and property. The City of Helena and Lewis and Clark County face a wide variety of hazards that could impact the community and its visitors. Local officials believe it’s important to test WEA capabilities before spring flooding, summer wildland fires and evacuation notices take a prevailing role in our community. The City of Helena and Lewis and Clark County is also susceptible to severe winter storms, grid failures, earthquakes and hazardous materials releases. Moreover, having the ability to alert non-resident visitors and transient travelers of a local area emergency via a WEA message is very important.
The focus of this live test is to ensure the IPAWS/WEA system is effective for future local emergencies that possess an imminent threat, the public is familiar with WEA and that local officials are proficient in the use of sending WEA messages before the initiation of a real-world crisis. Accordingly, the City of Helena and Lewis and Clark County believe it is imperative to test the system.