Carson offices are ready for millennium madness

The Carson City Sheriff's Office and other city offices are Y2K compliant, according to city officials.

Chief Deputy Jerry Mather said the city and law enforcement officials have been meeting with experts on a weekly basis, trying to determine where updates are needed and hammering out emergency procedures.

"The information systems folks have been doing tests and runs for some time," he said. "Our biggest concern was our communications system."

Mather said the department has been dusting off old radios and tuning them up, hoping they won't be necessary when the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31.

Bill Naylor, Carson City information systems manager, said computers throughout the city have been updated and run through a gamut of tests to ensure their reliability in the new year.

"The whole city is Y2K compatible," he said. "We've been doing it for a long time. At first there were software concerns. Now the concerns are about citizens' responses to problems."

Technology updates began about a year ago with jail and records management. The last big fix was about a month ago with new software at the dispatch center, Naylor said.

Fire department battalion chief Dan Shirey has been instrumental in his role as emergency management coordinator. He said residents should be ready for whatever the new year hands them.

"The Y2K publicity has been a very positive factor in the preparation by the public to prepare for any type of emergency," he said. "This is what we've been doing for years."

Confident that computers are not likely to be a problem, the city has been stockpiling things like generators and heaters in case of power and gas outages, Naylor said.

Twenty-gallon propane tanks will be full and ready to power gas appliances and a couple 200-gallon tenders will be able to drive around and fill the tanks if and when they empty, he added.

In case of widespread power outages caused by computer glitches, Mather said accommodations have been made with the vendor that supplies fuel to the city's vehicles. Diesel for fire engines and gasoline for cars and trucks will be available in an emergency, even if electric pumps don't work.

Although Shirey thinks the biggest Y2K problems will come from the revelry of the new year, he said representatives from all of the essential services (fire, sheriff's office, public utilities) will be located at an emergency operations center for convenience.

Law enforcement officials will even be standing by at stoplight-controlled intersections with temporary stop signs if the lights don't work.

In the case of communication, Mather said dispatchers and emergency personnel alike are already well-versed in the use of backup walky-talkies and CB radios. Updated computers have not been in place very long.

"The dispatch computers have to be shut down sometimes, and when that happens we regularly go to a manual system," he said.

"We've talked through most of the what-ifs," Mather said.


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