Special Report: County tests new communication system

December 06, 2006 11:00 pm

How can emergency officials stay in touch if an earthquake knocks down telephone lines?

The county is testing among its own departments a new communications system: voice-over Internet protocol.

A test line runs among Dan McCorkle's Information Tech-nologies office at Flynn Admin-istration Center and the county's Social Services, Mental Health and Sheriff's offices.

"We decided to install them after the last quake, and one will go to KCRE so we can warn them of tsunamis," said Mc-Corkle, who directs the county's IT department.

Back-up generators would provide electrical power to en-sure computers could operate.

Finding places to situate antennae that the system needs is a tad tricky, however. Offices must have a direct line of sight connection but can't be on tall buildings.

"We don't put them on big towers because if something goes wrong, we can't always go up," McCorkle said.

Allen Winogradov, the county's Office of Emergency Services director, has mentioned the system to other agencies around the area. Several have expressed interest in becoming part of it.

"In a Cascadia quake you probably wouldn't hear it (the siren) because it may fall off the roof. I don't know what the structural integrity of this building is."

The Flynn building, the city's former high school, dates back to about 1929.

Sgt. Garrett Scott, Crescent City's acting police chief, said that he soon hopes to the city will join the system once it is running.