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National Capital Region to test wireless emergency alerts system on April 5

Mar 28, 2018

*UPDATE* (April 5, 2018)
Now that the test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)system has been completed, local government emergency managers need to hear from you and get your feedback to determine the effectiveness of the test. Individuals are asked to complete this survey to share your experiences regarding the WEA test. The survey closes on Friday, April 13.


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.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) is helping coordinate 20 jurisdictions in the region to simultaneously issue a test message to the public through the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system.

Local jurisdictions participating 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.

Cell phones or other mobile devices in the participating jurisdictions will receive the following message: “A test of the [jurisdiction name] Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action required.” WEA triggers a loud noise and text message on cell phones and enabled mobile devices.

It is possible during this exercise for individuals to 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. Emergency officials want to ensure the safety of the public, which means communicating 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.

MORE: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about WEA on the Federal Communications Commission website


If you’re in the D.C. area your phone will buzz this morning with a test alert. Here’s why. (Washington Post)

Emergency Alert Test Headed to 5 Million Cellphones in DC Area on Thursday (NBC Washington)

Contact: Jeanne Saddler
Phone: (202)962-3250
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