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Emergency alert system in Summit fails first test

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PARK CITY ? A new emergency alert system, installed to help notify area residents in case of a major problem during the 2002 Winter Games, failed to pass its first test this week.

The $29,000 Emergency Preparedness Network computer software is designed to call thousands of home, business and cellular telephones at once when evacuation or other emergency measures are necessary.

But when the button was pushed to activate the system, those phones did not ring ? not until about an hour later, after the Boulder, Colo., manufacturer of the software was contacted. A faulty computer motherboard at the company's call center apparently was the culprit.

Summit County Sheriff Fred Eley said Thursday he hopes the bugs have been worked out of the system. He said additional tests would be performed before the Games to make sure.

If the computerized alert network failed during the Olympics, Eley said, his department would simply communicate with residents the old-fashioned way.

"We would send out cars and get people out that way, just by going door-to-door like we had to before, and make calls. With this system, it does all that for us," he said.

"You never know with anything mechanical, there's always a possibility" of a breakdown.

The system could come in handy during the summer fire season as well.