Bring on the mayhem
Emergency services ready for millennium madness

Cindy MacDougall
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 22/99) - Yellowknife's emergency services report they are ready for any millennium madness.

Mike Lowing, deputy fire chief of the Yellowknife Fire Department, said the city's ambulances, fire trucks and all the emergency medical equipment are Y2K compliant.

"Our equipment is either new or not date-sensitive," said Lowing. "We've had it all checked out and we're fine.

"We're actually more low-tech than you'd expect," he said.

A big advantage for the department is their communications system, which is completely manual.

"If we had a computerized system, we'd certainly have more cause to be worried," he said.

The local RCMP are also confident their systems will be up and running come Jan. 1.

"We've done all the checks on our computers," said Staff Sgt. Dave Grundy of the RCMP's G Division. "A lot of our systems are national, so they were checked out of Ottawa."

A good deal of Y2K planning for the cops was making sure other emergency services in each community, including Yellowknife, were ready for New Year's.

"We went door to door, and made sure that the fire trucks will pump and the hospital will have power," said Grundy.

The hospital has back-up generators and all the machines and equipment will work, according to Kerry Beauchamp, Y2K co-ordinator for Stanton Regional Hospital.

"We've had all our systems tested and all our equipment should work perfectly," said Beauchamp.

All three men say they are more concerned with the actions of the public than with a computer break-down.

"We don't anticipate a riot," said Grundy.

"What we hope is everyone will keep their cool and not look for trouble."

The local police detachment and the fire department will have all of their officers in town and on call, just in case.

The hospital will have extra technicians on site and doctors and nurses on call as usual, said Beauchamp. The city has also formed an emergency plan with the fire, police and hospital.

Dave Nicklen, Yellowknife's director of public safety, said the city has sent out an emergency booklet and a check list. However, the city has not named specific emergency shelters in case of a major disaster.

"We're not prepared to announce which schools will be shelters, because if the power goes out, we'll have 20 people lined up at the school," Nicklen said. "We will be announcing over the radio which shelters to go to in the event of an emergency."