Sullivan County Emergency Ready for Y2K

KPD will be out in force

BLOUNTVILLE : When midnight comes and goes on Dec. 31 and the year 2000 begins, emergency responders will be posted right around the corner, just in case the lights go out.

"We are going to be there in the event something occurs with this Y2K situation," said Sullivan County Emergency Management Agency Director Jerry Fleenor during a Y2K preparedness news conference Wednesday.

Officials will activate the portion of the county's integrated emergency preparedness plan that deals with widespread telephone and power outages. "The key issue that everybody has been concerned with has been power, and secondary to that would be the phone system," Fleenor said.

Under the preparedness plan, emergency workers, paramedics, firefighters, police officers and amateur radio operators will be stationed at various locations throughout Kingsport, Bristol and Sullivan County with radio communication to assist residents in case phones or power are out. "We have key locations that emergency responders will stage in case you have an emergency and you are not able to get a call out," Fleenor said.

Other local officials including Kingsport Police Assistant Chief Gale Osborne, Bristol 911 Director Virginia Smelser, and Bristol Fire Department Deputy Chief Gary Maiden also committed themselves and their departments to be on hand and ready for anything as Dec. 31 rolls into Jan 1, 2000.

What they're all hoping, however, is to be headed home by about 1 a.m. "We're just going to be in place and prepared in case there is some type of event from one of these issues," Fleenor said.

Smelser said Bristol's 911 system will be operable Dec. 31 as the time changes, but the system is dependent on phone lines. As long as phone service stays up, 911 will work, she said. Maiden warned against the Y2K hype that can cause panic among residents. He also warned against stockpiling items such as flammable liquids, which could result in fires or explosions.

Published December 1, 1999 Kingsport Times-News