SLFR works to prep for disaster

South Lane Fire Chief John Wooten was on the phone with federal authorities for the better part of his morning. 

It was part of an effort to enroll the fire district in two federal programs meant to streamline emergency services in the event of a natural disaster or man-made crisis that interfers with communications.

The Government Emergency Telecommunications Services would allow the local fire district to utilize their cell phones in the case of an emergency without running into busy signals or dead lines. 

"That cell ohone becomes a priority account in the event of an emergency," Wooten said, citing last year's ice storm that rendered local communication systems useless. 

"We couldn't use it for personal calls but it insures that our personnel can get calls and we can get our resources into place," Wooten said of the plan that would cost callers 75 cents per minute. 

Similarly, the WTS program would provide the same service for landlines, allowing South Lane County Fire and Rescue to make calls in case of an emergency.

"The eclipse this past summer is the perfect example," Wooten said. "The phone lines were jammed and with this program we would be able to make calls."

Emergency personnel are given a code to use which enables their phones to operate under conditions like the ice storm and eclipse as well as the coming Cascadia Quake. 

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