Emergency Alert System (EAS) - (This is a Warning System)
What is EAS?
The Emergency Alert System originated during the Cold War and was originally known as CONELRAD (CONtrol of ELectronic RADiation).
Before GPS there were concerns that Russian bombers would be able to navigate using the known frequencies and locations of our nation’s broadcast stations. It would have been fairly easy a navigator to tune in known radio stations and then note the bearing to each and transfer that information to his charts and determine where his airplane was. Their solution was a system in which, if the alert was issued at the national level, all radio and TV stations would either go off the air or switch to one of two pre-set frequencies. You might remember having seen old car radios, etc. with the little circle with a triangle inside it (a Civil Defense logo) at two locations on the dial where people would be expected to dial to hear the radio.
As time passed and navigation aids improved the CONELRAD system was converted to the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), and was seen as a way the President could address the nation all at once if there was something of national importance. That system was almost exclusively designed for the purpose of the Presidential address…and as time passed and our media connectivity changed, it was no longer needed in that format and eventually evolved into the EAS System.
EAS still has its basis as being a way for the national message from the White House…but it’s used primarily on the local level to put out weather warnings and local “Civil Emergency Messages.”
Still don't know what it is? Remember those annoying two-tone screeching sounds followed by the statement "This is a test of the Emergency Alert System..." and your TV screen switching from what you'd been watching to a black or grey screen with the "This is a Test" message. As technology has changed, you now may see it as a scrolling alert across the bottom or top of your television.
Campbell County's EAS
In Campbell County, we have the capability of setting off the EAS system on local radio stations and our Cable TV system by activating a special transmitter at the Emergency Operations Center located at the Sheriff's Office.
If set up in the automatic mode, the EAS alert goes out over a monitored radio frequency and is received and recorded by the EAS receivers at the radio stations and cable TV system. Once the "End-of-Message" signal is transmitted, their receivers then trigger their systems and re-transmit the message.
Because of computer automation systems and satellite programming feeds, radio stations and the cable system are not always manned 24/7/365, so having their systems in the automatic mode allows CCEMA to "take over" their broadcasts (for a maximum of 2-minutes) when we have an emergency warning to send out to the public.