Mobile devices all across the country were activated at 2:18 pm Eastern time on Wednesday with a FEMA test alert.  Did you get it?  Most cell phones and mobile devices did get the alert.

It's the first time the system has been tested on a national scale.  It was developed after the federal government was criticized over its handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  In response, President George W. Bush called for a new emergency alert system and the following year Congress passed the 2006 Warning, Alert and Response Network Act.

I was sitting in the waiting room of a busy medical center and I knew the alert was coming so I turned down the volume of my phone.  But it was interesting to see the reactions of people as the phone of every person in the waiting room went off at the same time.  The message was simple:

PRESIDENTIAL ALERT

THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System.  No action is needed.

Just a moment later a similar test of the EAS system appeared on the TV screen in the waiting room.

It was a test to determine how effective the FEMA's national alert system would be in an actual emergency situation and where improvements could be made.  There was no initial response from FEMA on the results of the test.

The test alert on your phone is similar to a Tornado Warning or Amber Alert that you may have already experienced. You cannot opt out of receiving these messages.