WH Briefing Room Overtaken by Alert Test

(Daily360.com) – Last week the government performed a nationwide test of the National Wireless Emergency System (WEA) on almost all cellular phones and tablets within the United States. The only devices that didn’t receive the blaring noise, vibration, and large text message fields were either turned off, on airplane mode or too old to receive it. All U.S. wireless service providers participated in the exercise which was done at the behest of a joint team from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agencies say this alert system would only be utilized during a national emergency.

The WEA test was performed last Wednesday at around 2:18 p.m. Eastern Time. Many people said they were unaware this test was scheduled and reported being surprised and somewhat startled as their device and the devices of everyone around them suddenly started blaring with the alert. Others who were aware the test was going to be performed complained that it happened two minutes early, as it had been announced for 2:20 p.m. by the FCC.

The majority of devices sounded the alert at 2:18 p.m. but due to the nature of cellular technology some devices sounded the alert a bit after others. All these elements caused a bit of a stir during the White House briefing. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre opened the briefing with a reminder to all present that the alert was scheduled and urged reporters to “get through it” when it occurred.

Despite the warning, reporters seemed to be thrown off by the staggered alerts as the room full of devices began to go off. One reporter remarked to Jean-Pierre that he “turned (his) off” to which she responded that he was fine but the alert is long. Another reporter attempted to joke with Jean-Pierre, assuring her the system works. A third reporter attempted a joke, telling the press secretary that her statement set the alarms off. Jean-Pierre also seemed to become distracted by the alerts and asked those in the room to remind her of the last statement she made because she could not remember it. The alerts were able to be turned off and stopped quickly by tapping the “ok” button on the text panel that appeared on each device’s screen.

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