Emergency Alert System (EAS)
The present Emergency Alert System (EAS) began as the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) in 1968. EBS was designed as a mechanism through which the president of the United States could address the nation during a national emergency. In the 3 decades during which EBS has been operational, the system has never been used for that purpose.
The main function of EBS has been the dissemination of information during local and regional emergencies such as tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes. In January 1997, the EBS was converted to the EAS to improve the administration of the system and increase its effectiveness.
Television and radio stations operate EAS decoder equipment that receives messages from issuing agencies. These messages, whether actual or test, can be broadcast live or taped for rebroadcast later. In the Roanoke area, WPVR 94.9 FM is the primary station providing emergency information. Alternate stations are WSLC 610 AM and WSLQ 99.1 FM.
The new EAS system replaces the familiar test message, "This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test." with the new test message, "This is a coordinated monthly test of the broadcast stations of your area. Equipment that can quickly warn you during emergencies is being tested." In addition, the new EAS will change the schedule of system tests. Participating stations will conduct 8 second weekly tests that will not include the full test message but are designed to test the automated tones and codes used for actual messages. Monthly tests will include the full spoken test message. These changes are designed to increase listeners' attention to actual emergency messages by reducing the likelihood that listeners will "tune out" to repeated test messages.
Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES)
During times of emergency, ARES performs a vital community service by providing communications equipment and personnel to supplement the city's day-to-day communications systems. These dedicated "HAM" radio operators are assigned to specific locations throughout the city and relay emergency information to local emergency management officials.
An amateur radio station is maintained adjacent to the Emergency Operations Center in the Noel C. Taylor Municipal Building.