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What emergency levels mean

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

During last week's snowstorm, the Putnam County 911 Dispatch and the Sheriff's Department were bombarded with phone calls from people asking what emergency levels meant.

"We were hit really hard at dispatch. People didn't know what a level two warning meant. People wanted to know if they could still drive to work in a level two warning. It was hard to keep up with the phone calls," said Putnam County 911 Director Dave Costin.

"So was the Sheriff's Department," added Putnam County Sheriff Steve Fenwick. "People were calling asking if we would write them an excuse for work. Our phones were really tied up."

None of the emergency levels carry any penalties, said County Planner Kim Hyten. Although he emphasized that police can write a ticket to anyone who is causing a hazard on the road.

"That can include being in an accident or getting stuck or just being out messing around when you shouldn't be," added Hyten.

When the county commissioners declare an emergency, they have the option of choosing one of four levels.

* A level one emergency restricts travel to emergency personnel only.

* A level two warning is when conditions threaten public safety. Only essential traffic is recommended, such as to and from work and for emergency situations. Businesses, schools, government agencies and other organizations should implement their emergency action plans to determine if travel is required.

* A level three watch means routine travel or activities may be restricted in an area because of a hazardous situation. The public should use caution or avoid these areas. Schools and businesses may implement their emergency action plans.

* A level four caution is issued when a condition develops that limits or hinders travel or activities in isolated areas. No travel restrictions are reported, but citizens should be alert to changing conditions.

"None of these levels lets us not allow you to go to work. If you need to go to work, you need to go. We do encourage everyone to know what their company or organization's emergency plan is and to follow it," said Hyten.


Comments
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It seems to me that the level numbers should be reversed. The higher the number, the wosre the situation. As the banner is not printed until midnight, those who do not have acess to the internet to read it or they do not receiv the paper, may not even know that the emergency has been issued.

Also, why do you not put the emergency level on the TV stations. I keep it on so that I am able to follow the weqather and news. Putnam Co. seems to be last to get info on.

-- Posted by reader 2 on Wed, Feb 4, 2009, at 7:30 AM

I agree. It wasn't until 10a that morning that I learned from word of mouth in the office that we were in a Level 2 Snow Emergency. I didn't hear it on the radio on the news or anything.

-- Posted by smltwngal on Wed, Feb 4, 2009, at 7:39 AM

Channel 13, WTHR, first announced that Putnam County was under a Level 2 Snow Emergency last Wednesday morning before 7am. They continued making that announcement regularly throughout their broadcast (they pre-empted the "TODAY" show to continue with their local broadcast).

-- Posted by hoosierbychoice on Wed, Feb 4, 2009, at 7:58 AM

The news channels DO tell when a county is under a snow emergency and what level. It runs at the bottom of the screen with the delays and closings. I am pretty sure it comes up when the list reaches "S" We saw it all day for 2 days.

-- Posted by putnammom on Wed, Feb 4, 2009, at 8:05 AM

What if the number system was chnged to a number and color ,for example Level 1 red. I think people would better understand or level 4 green. Just a thought.

-- Posted by Blue6 on Wed, Feb 4, 2009, at 2:47 PM

My employer has informed our staff that we go to work no matter what-we are in law enforcement uniforms.I have understood that all companies have their policy depending on the type of business.If it is a level one no one should be on the road unless they have to so emergency personnel and law enforcement have less traffic on the road and also so the county and state can work on getting the roads in better shape.

-- Posted by bam on Wed, Feb 4, 2009, at 7:44 PM


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