911 Won't Be Responding

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Half Of U.S. Counties Unready For Y2K

WASHINGTON (AP) - Many county-run 911 emergency response systems risk an immobilizing computer failure on Jan. 1, 2000, because half the country's counties lack plans to deal with the Y2K problem, the National Association of Counties said Tuesday.

The association's survey of counties found that with just 390 days remaining, half the nation's 3,069 counties are without a comprehensive strategic plan to deal with potential and real computer failure caused by the year 2000 problem. The nation's 911 systems are run by either city or country authorities.

The major fear: failure of computerized countywide 911 emergency response systems could immobilize fire, police, ambulance and rescue units.

``In my opinion that would be a major catastrophe,'' said Betty Lou Ward, the association president.

Association officials said they are working hard to spread the word to county officials on how to set priorities, fix or replace computers and computer programs and make contingency plans for systems that won't be ready in time.

``To ignore the problem is like walking through a snake-infested Nebraska pasture barefoot,'' said Tim Loewenstein, a supervisor of Buffalo County in rural Nebraska.

The survey did find that most counties are working on the year 2000 problem to one degree or another. And 15 of the nation's 16 most heavily populated counties have developed countywide year 2000 strategic plans.

The year 2000 problem arises from the fact that early computer programs used a two-digit format to express a year, with ``98,'' for example, standing for 1998. Such computers could read the ``00'' of 2000 as 1900, which in turn could cause a variety of failures.. The survey was conducted last month in telephone conversations with officials in 500 counties of all sizes, urban, suburban and rural. None of the individual counties were identified by name.

Among the findings:
-Counties are spending millions of dollars to deal with the year 2000 problem with the final bill for all counties estimated at $1.7 billion. The money is coming out of counties' general funds in most cases.

-Small counties are generally far behind on the problem, with 74 of the 119 smallest counties having no countywide plan.

-About one-third of all counties have completed inventories of computerized equipment to find which need attention with another two-fifths saying they are about halfway through that job.

Copyright 1998 Associated Press.


-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), December 08, 1998



Sounding the Sirens on Y2K

by Declan McCullagh
4:50 p.m. 3.Dec.98.PST

Emergency agencies have begun to ferret out Y2K bugs from their own equipment but are not yet preparing for electricity, gas, or telephone service failures, says a survey to be released Friday. Less than a third of the 212 fire, police, and medical emergency units that responded to the survey said they had a "specific plan to deal with any potential problems" that might erupt the evening of 31 December 1999.

"I'm a little concerned," said Clark Staten, director of the Chicago-based Emergency Response and Research Institute, which conducted the survey. "We aren't as prepared as we should be." Staten, a former fire chief, said emergency agencies are used to reacting to disasters after they happen -- a habit that leaves them ill-prepared to plan for Y2K. "They're very response-oriented," he said. "I'm sure there are budgetary issues involved, too."

The survey, conducted last month on ERRI's Web site, showed that nearly all respondents understand the implications of Y2K.

Three-quarters of them believe it will affect their operations, but only 24 percent have contingency plans to deal with external disruptions.

The survey is not scientific, since it polled only those agencies aware enough of Y2K to visit the ERRI site and agencies that learned about the survey through emergency mailing lists. At risk are 911 dispatch systems, which rely on computers, and communications systems. Motorola, Ericsson, Kenwood, and other large radio manufacturers have said all products sold today are Y2K OK, but some older units will need upgrades.

Government officials are also beginning to fret about social unrest caused by possible electric-power failures or panic over whether computers at financial institutions will crash on 1 January 2000. The United Kingdom has said Y2K failures could cause civil unrest, and one House of Representatives committee has advised President Clinton to consider declaring a national emergency.

Less than half the fire, police, medical, military, and disaster-relief agencies that responded to the survey believe their departments are "effectively prepared to deal" with the millennium bug at this time. Over 63 percent called it "a serious problem, but one that can be solved in time," and 8 percent thought it would be catastrophic.

Staten said too few emergency services have thought seriously about Y2K. "I'd like to see the political leadership in Washington give us some definitive direction.... I'd like to see a definitive statement by a leading fire chief," he said. "I don't know that this is an issue that has been explored well by the chiefs of the various emergency agencies."

He said he hopes the Federal Emergency Management Agency takes the lead in preparing for worst-case scenarios.

Copyright ) 1994-98 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved


-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), December 08, 1998.

>>>``To ignore the problem is like walking through a snake-infested Nebraska pasture barefoot,'' said Tim Loewenstein, a supervisor of Buffalo County in rural Nebraska

Hey Gary (in Aurora), you didn't say anything about snakes. :-) (I wonder if they're organic?!!)

"Humor, the best medicine"

-- (bada@bing.com), December 08, 1998.

From a different angle, during a question and answer time at a recent public Y2K meeting in our city, a fella stood up and said that he was a retired cop with (?) years experience. Don't bother calling 911, he said, they won't answer, or if they do, no one will come. The cop you will look for will be home with the family, protecting his/her own.

Hopefully this is NOT representative of all law enforecement officials.

-- Joe (jba@there.com), December 08, 1998.

In all our FEMA Disaster Response training, we are taught: assess and take care of yourself first, your family next, then your immediate neighborhood: then report to work at EOC. In the event of a large-scale disaster, you have only yourself to count on, and should report any problems to your Neighborhood Emergency Response Communications Carrier, who will relay your message to the Team Leader. Just hope you have a ham radio operator nearby when TSHTF. Better yet, take the FEMA training yourself, and bring your family to all classes and drills. It is incredibly helpful.

Ashton & Leska in Cascadia, who are trained + certified in 2 cities, and will be doing it all over again in a 3rd before 2000 :)

xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxx x

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), December 08, 1998.

Oh s**t ---


-About one-third of all counties have completed inventories of computerized equipment to find which need attention with another two-fifths saying they are about halfway through that job. >>

Less than half of the counties emergency services and government services have completed inventory for Y2K? And 40% are only half-way through inventory? Completing Inventory is the 10% point of the remediation effort!

At this rate, the only thing they will be able to do is "Yep, sho' enough that there one that failed is one of them we counted back last year."

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), December 08, 1998.

Mr. Cook, today is turning out to be such a cheery news day, Not. Hopefully today will spark a turning point, where people will begin to consider "Those Y2K crash scenarios *could* happen ..."

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), December 08, 1998.

Leo's Theory of Civil Disintegration

I came up with this one for a novel I tried to write, about a year ago. It was basically about the crash of society, although at the time I didn't know about y2k. Anyway..

1. Rioting in the city centre/inner city. Police called in to deal with it.

2. Rioting is too serious for inner-city police to control. Reinforcements are called for from the suburbs.

3. Due to the increased police presence in the inner-city, the smarter rioters head for greener pastures. In the suburbs, owing to a lack of cops, rioting breaks out THERE.

4. The cops in the inner-city hear about this suburban rioting and realise their families are in danger. They desert their posts and head home to protect them.

5. The cops remaining in the inner-city become a minority incapable of dealing with the riots. They decide to get the hell out to save their own lives. Meanwhile, the cops in the suburbs are at home with their families. Thus authority breaks down.


-- Leo (leo_champion@hotmail.com), December 08, 1998.

Hey, Diane, are you there?

This is the type of thing that really lends itself to community involvement. Number one, assume that 911 systems are going down. Number two, how do you handle it? What is the contingency plan. This is something that requires community response.

I read that one Y2K group in Oregon is intending to use CB. We're trying to get something like that started here, with CB interconnect to ham radio operators, and with CB base stations at our volunteer fire and EMT stations. I have a deputy sheriff living on a hill about a mile from me. I'll even buy him a base station and some batteries if he'll keep them charged and listen up :-)


-- rocky (rknolls@hotmail.com), December 08, 1998.

Rocky: It's a nice feeling to live around sheriffs, FBI, police and firemen. Last year our county experienced 2 days without 911 service, CB's and hams were a god send. I am very fortunate to live in an area with many fire and EMT volunteers.

-- bardou (bardou@baloney.com), December 09, 1998.

Bardou, I agree with you completely! The EMTs & ham radio operators are lifesavers!

In 1993 Oregon had 3 significant earthquakes. That generated a big ramp-up on the disaster-prep scale. The Fire Depts conduct regular trainings and drills, alongside FEMA. Unfortunately, not nearly enough ppl per the large population are ready. But those that are tend to really get into it. The EMTs teach the classes on medical triage with such professional excellence, and everybody acknowledges the ham radioers as our bottom-line survival upholders.

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx x

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), December 09, 1998.

Sorry rocky,

Was kinda focused on the S.F. Blackout reporting job. Yes, the contingency planning has to ASSUME it all goes down, 911 too. S.F. 911 was flooded with not enough dispatchers, and calls were stacked 30 deep per dispatcher. It was local on-the-spot people who had to help one another. They did, magnificently. The required community response will also be 1) individual families, 2) neighbors, 3) local community (however you define that) and probably stops there. Beyond that they will all be focused at their own local level.

I did catch Mayor Willie Brown on TV this morning saying they need to work on the deployment of ham radio operators to keep the communication lines up and strategically placed. Remember, the cell phones worked during the San Francisco Blackout, because the power grid outside S.F. was still operational. In Y2K, just like my experience in the Southern California Northridge 94 Quake, theyre down. Plan for it.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 09, 1998.

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