Emergency alert test going out to phones nationwide Wednesday

Alerts will also be broadcast on radio and television as well.

"In 2019, the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office is scheduled to be granted access by FEMA to this system so that we can provide these same types of alerts locally during emergencies that are affecting our community", Gargett said.

It was part of the first-ever national test of the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system, part of a pair of tests delivered by FEMA, that's been buzzing phones on a regional basis for years, alerting customers mostly to severe weather and Amber alerts.

This was only a test; a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System took place Wednesday afternoon, to ensure messages can get through in the event of a national emergency.

Here's the kicker - the subject of the alert will read: "Presidential Alert". Even if the handset is missing a SIM card or isn't activated, if it's on and not in a phone call it will receive the notification. And while Americans can choose not to receive weather and AMBER alerts, they cannot opt out of presidential ones.

Former president Barack Obama was the one who directed FEMA to create a system that would allow the president to send cellphone alerts regarding public safety emergencies.

The test was originally planned for September 20, but was been postponed until October 3, due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence. The alert can not be a personal message on behalf of the president.

So we asked FEMA why some people didn't get the alerts. The goal is to have phones get the alert at the same time. "You would not have a situation where any sitting president would wake up one morning and attempt to send a particular message".

FEMA officials estimate it will reach about 75 percent of all mobile phones in the country, including phones on all of the major carriers.

It finally happened-the "presidential alert" was sent to people's cellphones, and of course, everyone began riffing on it.

Legislation about emergency alerts have been rising since 9/11. FEMA and the Federal Communications Commission are conducting the tests. This is actually the fourth nationwide Emergency Alert System test but the first national Wireless Emergency Alert Text. Wireless users in the USA with compatible phones, connected to commercial networks run by the major wireless carriers, were supposed to get the test.

In a real emergency, devices would get the alert at the same time or as close to the same time as possible.