Germany on Friday carried out the first nationwide test of its civil alarm systems since the end of the Cold War, sounding several alarms. People also received emergency push notifications on their smartphones across the country.
The newly created National Warning Day, or Warntag, will now be observed every year on September 10 to inform the public about what to do in the backdrop of a national emergency, the Guardian reported.
The alarms, which began blaring at 11 am in the morning, continued for at least 20 minutes, the report stated. The state authorities had tried to alert and prepare schools, care centres, and shelters for asylum-seekers in advance to prevent any panic.
“We have a very unprepared population. It’s not like during the cold war when you could find an explanation for the warning signals on the back of the Yellow Pages,” Christoph Unger, President of the federal Office for Protection and Disaster Relief (BBK) told the Guardian, explaining the idea behind conducting the test.
The office also laid down a protocol so that the country’s residents will be able to assess the nature of the situation based on the tone of the alarm bell.
A siren that changes its pitch without any interruption serves as a warning, while a single tone that continues for a minute without wavering signifies the end of an emergency, the report added.
However, the experiment did not go entirely as planned.
Several residents reported that they had not received the emergency push notifications on their smartphones, while some claimed that they received it after a delay.
Further, several of the alarm systems across the country had been dismantled after the reunification in 1991.
“We are aware that it in part didn’t work,” a BBK spokesperson told the Guardian. “There were delays due to an overload of the modular warning system.”
The spokesperson added that the warning system was still a work in progress.
Ultimately, the BBK hopes to trigger all alarms and send out mass emergency push notifications at the press of a single button, located in its headquarters in the city of Bonn.