The Dubois County Herald is reporting this morning that the DC Commissioners Thursday suspended 9-1-1 Director Janice Love due to the recent incident in which the emergency tornado sirens did not sound when they were activated.
The action took place during Thursday’s Commissioners meeting and came after Commissioner Larry Volmer reported getting a lot of heat from the public about the sirens not sounding when a tornado warning was issued by the National Weather Service for a small portion of Dubois County on January 30th.
Love informed the County Commissioners during the February 4th Commissioners meeting that she and a technician from Advanced Communications had determined how the failure occurred. While listening to the recording of the dispatchers during those few moments in which the tornado warning was active, Love and the tech could hear the audible alert sounding in the background as the dispatchers attempted to page the sirens.
The sirens never sounded even though the dispatchers continued to attempt to activate them during the alert from the National Weather Service.
Love stated that they were able to create the same failure during simulated tests later that week.
Vollmer said the communications center should start simulating actual events to be better prepared and to find out if anymore “glitches” are in the system. Love complied with that request and has tested the system since then with no problems occurring.
He said, “I have had several calls about this. The taxpayers have a right to be upset. I think if something like this happens again there will be serious consequences.”
Those consequences have been instituted as the commissioners voted to suspend Love for a week due to the incident.
Love replied that, “The(y) (dispatchers) had no idea the equipment was going to do this. The manufacturer didn’t even know it would do this.”
This is the second time in two years the sirens have remained silent during a tornado warning.
The first time occurred on February 28, 2011, when dispatchers at the county communications center didn’t notice the alert from NWS notifying them of the tornado warning. A tornado hit Dubois County, damaging several structures near Duff and then causing extensive damage in Celestine. Luckily, no one was seriously injured during the event.
The Dubois County Free Press contributed to this story.