Sunday, March 27, 2011

EAS not used

Pa. Has one of the most Technologically Advanced
Emergency Alerting Systems and fails to utilize it.

Being a Broadcast Engineer for a 5000 Watt AM Radio Station
I became aware of a new Emergency Alerting System( EAS ) Being installed in stations and 911 centers across the state. Designed by Com Labs in FL.
Known as “Em Net “
Instead of what we had in the old days where we monitored KDKA -AM and WQED -FM who sent the signal via broadcast which activated our EAS Receivers to rebroadcast the message (We Still use this as a back up )
We now get messages via a Satellite on the roof a little bigger than used for TV. The system is also hooked to the internet connection at station as well.
So now when something is going on in the state PEMA in Harrisburg or NWS can send a signal instantly and then gets return message from each station via internet that the message has been received Vs. the old system where you hoped everyone got it and up in the hills of Armstrong County where I am at it was a crap shoot.
So the other day in the City of Clairton Pa. A young girl reports seeing another young black girl with Duct Tape over here mouth in a blue van being driven by a middle aged white male . A possible Abduction . Clairton Police immediately issued a Amber Alert as there have been several abduction attempts of children in the Mon Valley this year.
My station WAVL 910 AM along with couple others sent the message as soon as they got it. WAVL is unattended so we have our equipment set to always retransmit immediately no matter what is playing.
While the other stations took as long as 10 minutes to report it. Waiting till news or commercial break.
10 minutes time could have been life or death in this situation but as far as police can confirm no young girl is missing. However there could still be as Clairton has a very huge drug and crime problem and a irresponsible parent may not know there child is even missing.
So Clairton did the right thing but the stations where slow to respond.
But what if this had been a serious Hazmat situation and a cloud of poisonous vapor was in the air. This along with 60 other emergency warnings can now be sent over Pa. Em Net System and in fact there have been several bad industrial accidents where the EAS system could have and should have been used to alert the public and was never used.
What better way to alert the public to what is going on all Broadcast radio and TV stations would receive it along with Cable and FIOS TV broadcasters as well.
I immediately got the Amber Alert on my cell phone thru a text from www.Pa
All this technology in place and our local officials fail to use it. Millions was spent putting it in place 7 years ago and much of it has been upgraded as well.
In fact there is a big debate in the US right now involving EAS to upgrade it nation wide. The national alerting system has been in place and other than a test in Alaska many years ago a full nationwide emergency test message has never been conducted.

So here we go we have the technology and it sits there and is not used.
Why did we ever spend the money on it if our local officials are not going to use it?
When the time does come to actually us it will any one even remember how to do it?
Once again our hard earned taxpayer money being wasted.
It is not only in Pa. But across the country.
Just hope to god nothing major happens on a weekend like another 9-11
So many places have no one attending them or very small staff and rest on call. With 30-120 minute response time.

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