Delayed Emergency Alert Test does little to discourage those in San Francisco

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Friday, October 18, 2019
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A planned Emergency Alert Test went out to cell phone users across the City and County of San Francisco on Thursday afternoon.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A planned Emergency Alert Test went out to cell phone users across the City and County of San Francisco on Thursday afternoon.

The push came an hour later than originally planned, but the City's Department of Emergency Management still called the test a success.

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The Wireless Emergency Alert System should have triggered a test between 5:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. However, it arrived at 6:14 p.m.

"While this test was delayed, it was successful in the sense that we got a chance to understand what's going to work, what's going to cause us some problems during an actual emergency," Francis Zamora said.

Zamora is the Public Information Officer for the City's Department of Emergency Management.

According to Zamora, the next steps involve figuring out exactly what happened, then working to improve how alert messages get sent out. His office will work with Federal and State partners, including the system's vendor to investigate.

Results aren't expected for several days.

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Berkeley resident, Rachel Sunday told ABC7 News, "People survived without alerts before this, so I think we're all going to be alright."

She received the test notification while in San Francisco on Thursday evening.

Pat Mazzucco said an alert would've been useful back when Loma Prieta hit.

"There was some limited communications, but it was just a lot of word of mouth," Mazzucco explained. "And the police coming around and loud speakers saying evacuate or whatever."

Since 1989, the city has invested $20-billion to infrastructure upgrades and emergency response improvements. That effort continues with this hour-long delay.

"I think it's good that they're figuring it out and you know, these are opportunities to learn and to hopefully execute it in a more efficient way next time," Kensington resident, Kath Delaney told ABC7 News.

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The City's Office of Emergency Management says before it can launch another test, it will have to request approval from the FCC.

Zamora told ABC7 News, "You don't want to do this for the first time during a disaster. This is why we're doing it now."