Hesitation kept Ashburn sirens from sounding - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Hesitation kept Ashburn sirens from sounding

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December 18, 2007

Ashburn-  Weather sirens never sounded Saturday night when a tornado tore through Ashburn.

By the time emergency workers tried to sound the alarm, it was too late, the storm was already on top of them.

Turner County's Interim 911 director says emergency personnel began reporting storm damage shortly after the 911 center received the alert from the National Weather Service.

In the rush, dispatchers never sounded the alarm to alert the community. They attempted to when told by the fire chief, but it was too late.

"She advised that the lights flickered at that time she was going to the box, the lights flickered at that time and then we also had 311 which is one of volunteers advise all units that 911 had gone down at that time," said Kathy Morgan, Turner County Interim 911 Director.

Turner County Manager Charles Kinney says the county is treating the incident as a learning experience, "That we do a post assessment that we see what we can change or maybe respond to differently," said Kinney.

The county has already changed the protocol, until two months ago only the director could activate the alert system. Now all dispatchers can operate the system and they know it should be done immediately.

County officials say they've also made dispatchers aware that they will get a response tone once the siren is sounded, so they can be sure the alert went out.

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