Federal and state agencies worked in cooperation with broadcasters to conduct a statewide exercise of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in Alaska yesterday, marking the first time that the system has been tested for communicating presidential alerts.

While the EAS public-warning system is tested and used regularly by state and local authorities to communicate AMBER alerts and severe-weather information, the Alaska exercise marked the first time that the presidential-alert capability has been tested since being established in 1994, FCC spokesman Rob Kenny said.

“It’s never been tested before on a planned basis or a coordinated effort,” Kenny said. “We wanted to determine the ability of a state to handle [a presidential alert] and participants to transmit it.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the FCC, the state of Alaska, and the Alaska Broadcasters’ Association participated in the test. Radio/TV broadcasters and cable operators ran several public-service announcements for more than two weeks to prepare Alaska residents for yesterday’s event.

“Periodically exercising our communications capabilities is an important step to ensure that we, as a country, are prepared for an emergency,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in a statement. “This is only a test, but it also serves as an important reminder that just as our federal, state, and local teams are taking steps to be prepared, so should families across our country.

Families can log onto Ready.gov to learn the few simple steps they can take to be prepared for an emergency.”

Results of the EAS test are being evaluated, Kenny said. Jamie Barnett, chief of the FCC’s public-safety and homeland-security bureau, said the FCC hopes the test results will help identify the best ways to improve the EAS system.

“We intend to move quickly to improve the system,” Barnett said in a statement. “The FCC looks forward to working with FEMA, our other federal, state, tribal and local partners, as well as broadcasters and other EAS participants, as we use these results to improve future EAS exercises."