Published on : Saturday, January 4, 2020
Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) is now among the government agencies across the country granted authority by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to utilize the WEA system, in which emergency text messages and an alert tone are pushed to compatible mobile devices – such as cell phones – within a pre-defined geographic area.
The purpose of these messages is to alert people about imminent threats to safety in their area. This is the same system utilized for presidential alerts, AMBER alerts and extreme weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service.
The LAX test of the emergency messaging system will take place at 10 a.m. on Jan. 15 and will be sent to mobile devices within the area bounded by La Cienega Boulevard to the east, Imperial Highway to the south, Pershing Drive to the west and Westchester Parkway/Arbor Vitae Street to the north. It is possible that some devices outside of this immediate area may receive the alert as well, as the signals are sent by cell phone towers in the area.
The LAX test message will read: “This is a test of the LAX Wireless Emergency Alert system. No action is required.”
“Safety is the No. 1 priority at Los Angeles World Airports, and the Wireless Emergency Alerts system provides us with another way to send critical information during an emergency directly to airport guests,” said Justin Pierce, Director for Emergency Management, LAWA. “While we hope that we will never need to use this system, conducting a full-scale test of the system will ensure that we have the capability to reach tens of thousands of airport employees and passengers with potentially life-saving information.”
LAX will join a handful of other U.S. airports which have tested the WEA alert system, including Dallas Love Field and Denver International Airport. Since its launch in 2012, the WEA system has been used more than 49,000 times nationwide to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children and other critical situations.
Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems help assess the operational readiness of the system and identify any improvements needed. LAWA needs to be sure that in times of emergency or disaster, the airport has reliable methods and systems that will deliver urgent alerts and warnings to the public. Conducting a test supports the continued use, training and improvement of LAWA’s ability to send emergency messages.
In an actual emergency, the WEA messages would advise recipients of actions they should take to save lives and/or property. If an unforeseen emergency or hazardous situation occurs on the morning of Jan. 15, the test may be postponed until a later date.