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Emergency services prepare for Y2K test

July 18, 1999|By GREG SIMMONS

Washington County Emergency Services will participate in a statewide emergency-response test Thursday in preparation for any problems, miniscule to monumental, resulting from the Y2K computer bug.

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"It's no big deal," said Roy Lascaleet, Washington County 911 Fire and Rescue computer aided dispatch administrator.

No fire trucks will leave their bays, and no police will be dispatched for the test. This is one of three or four annual tests the Maryland Emergency Management Agency requires to make sure everything runs smoothly during an emergency, he said.

But Butch Kinerney, the outgoing MEMA spokesperson, said while every emergency system in the state must run routine tests, this one is special because of its scale.

All state agencies and those from the 23 counties, Ocean City and Baltimore will participate in the test between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday, according to MEMA. No computer systems will be tested.

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Kinerney said this test is preparing the whole state for the same scenario - the Y2K bug - while other tests prepare for localized problems such as snowstorms or floods.

Lascaleet, who helped design the test scenario for Washington County, said details will remain a secret until 10 a.m. Thursday, when each agency will receive its scenarios for the day's events.

Under the test, emergency services may receive a scenario that says a fight is occurring at an ATM machine, which could be rendered useless by the Y2K bug.

Or the dispatcher's phone system may not work.

"We are anticipating what I would call annoyances - minor disturbances," Kinerney said.

However, many minor disturbances could balloon into a major public threat, and that is why the test is necessary, he said.

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