TEMA apologizes for foulup in emergency test

Patrick Sheehan, head of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. apologized Thursday after emergency alerts were sent to mobile devices across the state during testing — and some were not labeled as tests.

Text of statement from TEAM Director Patrick Sheehan, emailed to media
“Today the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency conducted a statewide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts to mobile devices. The purpose of the test was to assess the readiness and effectiveness of the system to address the public during times of emergency. The purpose of this system is essential to ensure we can communicate to save lives and protect property. We timed today’s test to coincide with the beginning of National Preparedness Month and it was designed to have limited impact on the public.

“TEMA spent the last several weeks working with our partners, EAS participants across the state , and the public to prepare for today’s test. Unfortunately, during today’s test we learned valuable lessons about the Emergency Alert System, our protocols, and areas to improve on the delivery of these types of alerts in the future.”

“We have received calls and messages from hundreds of Tennesseans letting us know about problems with receiving messages and the concerns caused by the messages received. In many instances the caveats that the message was part of a test were not received, making it seem like an emergency was imminent. While many are understanding, knowing that we need to test our systems, many have voiced their concerns about the angst this test cause. Please accept my sincerest apologies for any inconvenience today’s test caused.

“In the coming days and weeks TEMA will be reevaluating our protocols and systems. We will not be conducting any public tests of the system in the foreseeable future.

We do these tests to make certain we know about problems before we need the systems. In this regard alone, this test has been very valuable.

Again, please accept my apologies on behalf of TEMA and my gratitude for your patience and understanding.