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USDHS report notes enhanced Emergency Alert System for territory

fili@samoanews.com

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently enhancing American Samoa’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) through the implementation of an auxiliary Primary Entry Point station in the territory.

This is according to a 13-page report which summarizes activities by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — which oversees FEMA — for the insular areas. The report was prepared for the 2012 senior plenary session of the federal Interagency Group for Insular Areas (IGIA) which met February in Washington D.C. and attended by Gov. Togiola Tulafono and Congressman Faleomavaega Eni.

According to the report, which was publicly available yesterday, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) is a national public alert and warning “system of systems” under development by FEMA in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service, the Federal Communications Commission, and the DHS Science and Technology Directorate to enable rapid dissemination of authenticated alert information over multiple communications channels.

It says that FEMA and local station WVUV-FM have implemented an agreement under which the radio station will act as an auxiliary Emergency Alert System Primary Entry Point station.

Additionally, the FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Program Office is improving the radio station’s capabilities through contracts and through coordination with federal partners, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“When the upgrade is complete, WVUV-FM will have robust backup power, multiple communications pathways to the FEMA Operations Center, and a hardened facility,” it says. “These enhancements will improve Emergency Alert System capabilities for the territory as a whole.”

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Larry Fuss, president of South Seas Broadcasting, owner and operator of WVUV-FM and KKHJ-FM, said WVUV-FM will now be connected to FEMA’s IPAWS, “enabling us to provide the territory with improved warning capability, not only for some unforeseen national disaster, but for more localized emergencies, such as tsunamis and cyclones.”

He explained that WVUV-FM will be the “Primary Entry Point” (PEP) station for EAS in American Samoa while  KKHJ-FM will continue as the primary local EAS station (LP-1) and KULA-FM will continue as the backup (LP-2).

“As a PEP station, FEMA officials will have the capability to interrupt programming on WVUV-FM any time of the day or night and send appropriate warning messages.  These messages would then be relayed by KKHJ-FM, KULA-FM, and other local stations,” said Fuss yesterday. “The primary purpose of this system is to give the President immediate access to the airwaves during a national crisis.”

Regarding the federal agency’s Office of Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshall Service (OLE/FAM), the report says OLE/FAMS has supported American Samoa over the years by providing law enforcement training to airport law enforcement personnel and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Office of Security Operations (OSO) components.

Additionally, OLE/FAMS has partnered with the Port Directors for the Airport and Maritime venues, staff from the Governor’s Office, and other local leaders to increase American Samoa’s security posture through initiatives such as the enhancement of airport grounds to mitigate risks.

OLE/FAMS also works with local U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.



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