Typical New Year's Eve expected

Some are preparing for the party of the century and others for the end of the world, but emergency management coordinator Dan Shirey said he anticipates tonight will be a typical New Year's Eve in Carson City.

"We expect increased activity, but not anything major," Shirey said. "Compared to Reno, Las Vegas and South Lake Tahoe, we won't have much going on. It will be a busy night but nothing beyond the capacity of the city."

In order to accommodate the increased activity, police, fire and ambulance crews will have extra people working.

Bernie Curtis, the chief deputy of operations, said that on a normal Friday night there will be about seven police units on duty, but there will be at least 20 tonight with more on backup.

"We will have at least three times the normal amount and probably closer to five," Curtis said.

Two fully staffed fire engines will be added to the three that would normally be on duty and two additional ambulances and crews will double the regularly scheduled two ambulance crews.

In addition to the increase of law enforcement, fire protection and ambulances, the Emergency Operations Center will also be on standby in case a situation escalates.

Shirey described the operation as a "control in-command center where decisions are made during emergency situations."

However, he said that he is confident that the center will not have to go into full operation tonight.

"I strongly believe that they will have appropriate resources in place so we will not need to assist them with normal operations," Shirey said.

The city is also prepared for technological glitches that may accompany the arrival of the new century.

Jeff Maples, director of gas operations for Southwest Gas, said the company has upgraded all of its systems and is now Y2K compliant.

"We're definitely ready," he said. "I'm sure you'd hear the same thing from Sierra Pacific and Nevada Bell."

City officials will also be keeping watch tonight to avoid any Y2K disasters.

Two staff members will work in City Hall to monitor the computer systems.

"Just in case there is a power outage, someone will need to shut down the main computer services," said Bill Naylor, information services director for Carson City.

He added that shutting down the computers would not be "that big of a deal."

He said one staff member will be at the police department and one at the Emergency Operations Center to activate generators in case of a power outage. He said the wastewater plant and the water treatment plant will also be equipped with power generators, as will other key departments.

However, Shirey said that any power outages will probably not be a result of Y2K glitches but of some outside source.

"It doesn't take much for a tree branch to fall and take out a full-tension wire," Shirey said. "And that's just a fluke."

He said a car could also hit a power pole causing a brief power outage.

Whatever the reason, he advised residents to stay calm and wait to see what happens.

Richard Mirgon, director of Douglas County emergency systems, said residents should "treat it like any other day and if the unexpected happens, take a deep breath, think about it for a minute and do what is reasonable."

Naylor said he is not worried about Y2K dangers but is concerned about people's behavior.

"I don't think the danger at all will be with the power or the water," Naylor said. "Hopefully, people aren't as nuts as some people have said they will be."


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