The Student News Site of Itasca High School. Proudly serving Itasca the "Big, Little" town since 1997.

The Paw Print Press

The Student News Site of Itasca High School. Proudly serving Itasca the "Big, Little" town since 1997.

The Paw Print Press

The Student News Site of Itasca High School. Proudly serving Itasca the "Big, Little" town since 1997.

The Paw Print Press

The October 4th National Alert Explained

On October 4th, 2023 the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Communications Commission did a test of the Emergency Alert System and the Wireless Emergency Alert System. They let people know beforehand that this event was to occur, and that no action was required on the public’s part. However, as soon as the news came to light, rumors and theories spread like wildfire.

Most of the theories involving the test are linked to old (and now debunked) COVID vaccine suppositions. For example, one theory claimed that the test would “activate the Marburg virus in people who have been vaccinated.” The frequency of the sound played during the test would turn those who have been vaccinated into zombies. Despite the fact that these tests are routine and fairly common (and a zombie apocalypse is fictitious), people truly believed the theories, and were very afraid. 

Many people took measures into their own hands to try and prevent the alarm from working on their phones. Some people simply turned their phones off, while others were a bit more creative. One Reddit user claimed that their mother told them to “wrap my cell phone in aluminum foil and place it in the microwave for the day.” Another said that their parents saw the test as an attack on the U.S. population by the president. 

Regardless of how you feel about our president, the test was not an attack of any kind. In fact, it was not President Biden’s idea at all. These tests were originally devised by John F. Kennedy in the early 1960’s when he established the Emergency Broadcast System. (The name was later changed to the Emergency Alert System in the 1990’s.) This alert system, and others like it, must be tested every 3 years according to federal law.

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So what actually happened during the test? Many people claimed that the test could last up to 30 minutes, when in reality it only lasted about 15 seconds. An alarm was played through both speakers on the cellphone; the same sound that can be heard during an amber alert. A notification appeared on screen, which read the following:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. The purpose is to maintain and improve alert and warning capabilities at the federal, state, local, tribal and territorial levels and to evaluate the nation’s public alert and warning capabilities. No action is required by the public.”

And just like that, the test was over. No one was attacked, endangered, or turned into a zombie. It was merely a simple, routine test by the government to make sure their alarm systems were running smoothly. 

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Henry Bowman, Staff Writer/Editor
Henry Bowman is a staff writer and editor for the Paw Print Press. He primarily writes articles about films, often compiling them into ranked lists. He has many favorite movies, but his top picks are Meantime (1983), Eraserhead (1977), and Saltburn (2023).
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