Regaining Trust in the Nation’s Public Alert and Warning System Engaging the Support of Public Information and Training Officers by Micki Trost

Hanscom, Donald H., Jr.

Trust in the FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) has been eroded following wildland fires in Gatlinburg and Sonoma County, California and a ballistic missile false alert issued by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. IPAWS Alerting Authorities can regain trust by focusing on the composition and delivery of the public alerts. This is possible by engaging public information officers in the IPAWS process and using the alerting formula provided by FEMA researchers. (Mileti 2018, FEMA, 2018). The second step is to develop and implement an IPAWS training program for all staff, but especially for alerting operators. This program should include IPAWS internal agency exercises and monthly drills. Lastly, Alerting Authorities should promote a continuous public education campaign to prepare their communities to not only receive and respond to emergency alerts, but to understand the potential risks within their areas. IPAWS is built using technology that frequently changes. The demands on creating the correct messages and continuously training to understand the system will be high and are essential in rebuilding the trust of the public alert and warning system in the United States.

Read more in Micki Trost’s FEMA Master Public Information Officer thesis on “Regaining Trust in the Nation’s Public Alert and Warning System Engaging the Support of Public Information and Training Officers.”

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Regaining Trust in the Nation’s Public Alert and Warning System Engaging the Support of Public Information and Training Officers by Micki Trost