Federal agencies will be testing the nationwide Emergency Alert System on Wednesday morning.

Director of Missoula County’s Office of Emergency Management, Adriane Beck said two separate systems will be tested just minutes apart.

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS),” said Beck. “This system has gone through several enhancements over the last several years to include wireless emergency alerts as well that people are familiar with because they’ve received them as Amber Alerts. On Wednesday in our time zone at approximately 12:18 p.m. FEMA will be issuing this test which will include the traditional EAS test, as well as the enhanced wireless emergency alert. So, what the public can expect is that on Wednesday at 12:18 p.m., their cell phone will receive an emergency alert that will come with the banner ‘Test Test Test.”

Beck described the circumstances where an actual emergency alert would be issued.

“What most people are familiar with are the dangerous weather alerts which can be triggered by the National Weather Service or NOAA, missing children which can be issued by the Department of Justice, and there are other critical situations that tend to be localized, such as approaching wildland fires to any number of other threats.
These alerts differ from the local emergency alert system that the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management employs. Smart911 uses geo-targeted alerts to warn residents and visitors of more localized hazards, such as evacuations.

The WEA test will be pushed out to cell phones at 12:18 p.m. MDT, with the EAS test on radio and television broadcasts to follow at 12:20 p.m.