President Trump tests emergency communication system

The Presidential Alert appears across the screen of a WHS teacher's cell phone screen.

Photo by Christina Manolis

The Presidential Alert appears across the screen of a WHS teacher's cell phone screen.

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If you have had a smartphone, you know that occasionally you will receive blaring alerts notifying either a missing child, hazardous weather, etc. However, now there is a new alert that can be sent to all citizens across the United States from President Donald Trump with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

On Oct. 3, 2018 at exactly 1:18 p.m., Trump tested his emergency communication system—sending a mass alert via cell phones across the nation. On phones with notifications enabled, the message “Presidential Alert/ THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed” appeared.

“I knew it was going to happen because I heard it on the radio this morning,” senior Anna Copeland said.

While many media sources and teachers reminded students that the alert was happening at 1:18 p.m., some students were confused, especially since some didn’t receive the Presidential Alert on their phone.

“I was surprised that it happened,” senior Josie Kleinheider said. “I looked around at everyone’s phone and wondered what was happening.”

Information is constantly finding new ways to be communicated. While an alert being sent to over 75 percent of America’s cell phones at a single moment was not considered attainable at once, it is possible that Presidential Alerts may seem normal in the future.

“There were always press briefings, so it’s not as if in the 1990s and 2000s there wasn’t mass communication. It just wasn’t as immediate,” language arts teacher Ryan Leatherman said. “It certainly wasn’t this fast.”

While this power has never been available to an individual, many can see Presidential Alerts being beneficial in communicating to all citizens, specifically during national disasters.

“I can definitely see instances in which it would be appropriate,” Leatherman said. “I don’t necessarily see it as an overreach as it does have purpose.”