The Federal Emergency Management Agency is testing out a new alert system this week. If you use a cell phone, you should expect a “Presidential Alert” message Wednesday morning.
FEMA already sends out wireless messages for weather emergencies or Amber Alerts, but now they’ve added a “Presidential Alert” to their toolbox. No, this doesn’t mean you’ll be getting a text message from Donald Trump, but it does mean the agency is testing the ability to reach out to all wireless users across the country.
While the Presidential Alert title has some wondering if this means the president has direct access to cell phone users across the country, FEMA's Region 10 Northwest spokesperson Savanna Brehmer says it might be a bit of a misnomer. It relates more to a national security alert rather than establishing text message access from the White House.
Brehmer says the Presidential Alert is different from their more regional alerts that target specific areas: “The presidential part it’s really a national aspect, the fact that this is a message that needs to reach the entire nation.”
She adds it's important to test the capabilities of the new alert: “It’s an opportunity for us to take a look at if there are any deficiencies or technological improvements that are needed so that we can address those and make the system work in the future.”
The Wireless Emergency Alert test is Wednesday at 11:18 a-m Pacific Time. It’ll look like a text message but has a special tone and vibration and the words “Presidential Alert” at the top of the message. While you can opt out of receiving Amber Alerts and weather emergency messages on your cell phone, there is no opting out of the Presidential Alert.