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Satellite based connection between Territory and FEMA now in place for emergencies

A newly installed satellite based telecommunication system will be used as another line of communication between American Samoa and federal government officials if and when other lines of communications fail during a disaster.

The FEMA National Radio System (FNARS) was installed more than a week ago at the Emergency Operations Center, located at the Territorial Emergency Management Coordinating Office (TEMCO), a bureau of the local Department of Homeland Security (ASDHS).

The FNARS system will enhance the EOC’s communication capabilities by providing another direct line between the territory and FEMA, said ASDHS in a news release.

FNARS is a satellite based system, and is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security / FEMA, including the cost to keep it up and connected.

ASDHS director Michael Sala said they are very satisfied with the new system, and he thanked the federal government for this new equipment.

“This added line of communication will serve American Samoa well as we continue to improve our communications capabilities,” said Sala. “Because of American Samoa’s geographic isolation from the U.S. mainland, it is important that we keep our lines of communication open during times of emergencies, and the FNARS system is certainly another step in this direction.”

ASDHS spokesperson Fagafaga Daniel Langkilde told Samoa News that the entire project was handled by FEMA, who brought into the territory about two weeks ago the entire system shipped in crates via container.

“This new system is now operational and working well for American Samoa,” he said.

A team of technicians on island to install the new system was headed by David W. Benoit, Regional Disaster Emergency Communications Coordinator out of the FEMA Region IX Disaster Response Division in Oakland, Calif., and included five private contractors.

This new system comes after ASDHS announced in February this year another new system in place called the Emergency Management Weather Information Network, or EMWIN, which provides the emergency management community with access to a set of National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts, and other products at no cost to the territory.

This tracking system, installed at the TEMCO facility, is satellite based and does not rely on Internet connection, which makes it unique and adds to American Samoa’s emergency management capabilities.  The system came with the help of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Meanwhile, Sala reminds the community that ASDHS/TEMCO will conduct the June test of the outdoor siren warning system on this Friday, June 1.

ASDHS/TEMCO announced two months ago that the siren warning system will be tested the first Friday of every month.