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Nationwide test of emergency alert system set for Wednesday

Broadcasts will appear and sound like a realistic, 'live' announcement

For the first time ever, a nationwide test of the emergency alert system will appear to be real.

On Wednesday at 11 a.m. Oregonians will hear on their radios and see on their televisions a test of the emergency alert system.

The test will last about three minutes. Normal programming will return following the test, which is organized by the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"This test will be different than those we have had in the past," said Jennifer Chamberlain, public affairs coordinator for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

The Nov. 9 test will utilize a "live" national alert code -a coded message that will present itself as an actual emergency announcement, not a test.

"This is necessary in order to allow FCC and FEMA to test the actual working order reliability of legacy EAS equipment and the state of readiness of EAS operators and participants," Chamberlain said. "Television stations are being encouraged to run a scroll at the bottom of the screen throughout the test stating that it is just a test."

Many agencies, including Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, are diligently trying to get the word to people that this is, in fact, a test.

"Often, citizens who are unsure of whether the alert is real or a test, place calls to 911 which tie up the phone lines for legitimate emergencies," she added. "If anyone has questions about the test, please do not call 911.

"Please tell your neighbors and friends about this test so that Oregonians will be the most informed of all the states and will not be caught off guard by this unusual test of the EAS equipment."

More information can be found at www.fema.gov/emergency/ipaws/eas_info.shtm .