State Patrol Sends Accidental Late Night Emergency Alert to Nebraskans’ Cell Phones

Nebraska State Patrol
Facebook/Nebraska State Patrol

The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) accidentally sent an emergency alert to Nebraskans’ cellphones after 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, the state patrol explained the alert was sent due to a mix-up while the agency carried out the monthly Emergency Alert System (EAS) tests. “The tests are conducted on the third Tuesday of each month and issued by NSP, Nebraska Public Media, and the NEMA [Nebraska Emergency Management Agency] on a rotating basis,” the NSP tweeted.

The NSP was supposed to test broadcast mediums, but it inadvertently activated the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system as well. The WEA, which is typically used to send out amber alerts or other emergency information, sent alerts to phones throughout the state.

“We apologize for any inconvenience or distress this error may have caused,” the NSP stated. 

Phones received the alert at 11:07 p.m., according to WOWT.

The incident is reminiscent of the false missile alert sent to Hawaiians in January of 2018. According to the Associated Press, the alert went out around 8:00 a.m. and read, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

NPR reported

At 8:09 a.m., the agency alerted Hawaii Gov. David Ige that the false alert had been sent.

It took until 8:20 a.m. for the agency to post to its Twitter and Facebook accounts that there was no missile threat to Hawaii. The governor didn’t retweet that notice of no threat until 8:24 a.m. — a delay Ige attributed to not knowing his Twitter password.

And it took even longer to issue a correction through the emergency alert system: That correction wasn’t sent until 8:45, a full 38 minutes after it had sent the false alert.

The worker who sent the alert reportedly “misunderstood a drill as a true emergency.”

He reportedly had a history of confusing drills with real-life events and was eventually fired following a Federal Communications Commission investigation, according to the Associated Press. 

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