Emergency Alert System Test: Share with your clients

Several years ago, I signed up with the federal Office of Civil Rights online Privacy listserv so I would get notifications about HIPAA. I have been delighted with that subscription over the years. If you are an organization that provides healthcare services, you too should subscribe.

Today I received a new sort of notice from the listserv…one aimed at informing as many individuals as possible about an upcoming test of the federal Emergency Alert System.

Date:    Thu, 3 Nov 2011 12:11:48 -0400
From:    “OS OCR PrivacyList, OCR (HHS/OS)” <OCRPrivacyList@HHS.GOV>
Subject: First Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System; November 9 at 2pm EDT

Test to Take Place November 9 at 2 p.m. EDT

Dear Colleagues;

We need your assistance in notifying everyone about the November 9th nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System.  Please help distribute this to all your stakeholders, as far and wide as possible, to ensure the entire community is aware that

As part of our larger efforts to strengthen our nation’s preparedness and resiliency, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct the first nation-wide test of the Emergency Alert System on November 9th at 2pm Eastern Standard Time.

The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system established to enable the President of the United States, if needed, to address the American public during emergencies.  It is another critical communications tool that can protect the public and strengthen our nation’s resiliency.  The National Weather Service, governors, and state and local authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts.  The test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency.

This national test will help federal partners and EAS participants determine the reliability of the system, as well as its effectiveness in notifying the public of emergencies and potential disasters both nationally and regionally.  The test will also provide the FCC and FEMA a chance to identify improvements that are needed to build a new, modernized, and fully accessible Emergency Alert System.

To support the disability community, FEMA has developed a toolkit that will allow you to reach out to your constituents and local partners.  The toolkits, attached here in multiple formats, allow you and your organization to quickly disseminate information about this test.

In addition, we’re also releasing two new videos created to support the outreach efforts of our disability community partners.   FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has long been a champion of the whole community and ensuring that FEMA represents the diversity of the people we serve.  In one video, Neil Mc Devitt, from FEMA’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination joins Administrator Fugate in outlining the need for the upcoming Emergency Alert System test and the accessibility challenges posed by the test.   The video has American Sign Language, open-captions, and is voiced throughout.   We’re also happy to provide a Spanish version of the message with open-captions.

If you have additional questions for FEMA-Office of Disability Integration and Coordination questions, please contact our office at

Marci Roth
Office of Disability Integration and Coordination


*        FEMA Administrator’s Message – http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary/media_records/6407

*        ASL Video: http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary/media_records/6407

*        Spanish Video: http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary/media_records/6408

Please share this information with your constituencies, colleagues, friends, and families.   Remember, on November 9th at 2pm ET, “Don’t stress; it’s only a test.”

I was fascinated at using the HIPAA listserv for this purpose. As I read through the notice, it became clear that FEMA is quite concerned about insuring that disabled individuals of all sorts receive notice of this test so they are not alarmed when the test occurs. Using a listserv that reaches healthcare providers is actually an excellent use of this list. After all, most disabled individuals are in touch with healthcare providers.

Please feel free to pass this information…or even this blog…on to your clients. It is important that consumers of behavioral health and other health services realize that the event scheduled for Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 2pm is a TEST of the Emergency Alert System.

Good for you to know it too!

Thanks for reading and sharing the information in our blog.

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