Faulty message sent out warning of terrorist attack - WNEM TV 5

Faulty message sent out warning of terrorist attack in Old Saybrook

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  • Old Saybrook sends out erroneous terrorism alert

    Old Saybrook sends out erroneous terrorism alert

    Monday, August 19 2013 8:19 AM EDT2013-08-19 12:19:29 GMT
    Residents in a Connecticut shoreline town say they were startled when the local public address system instructed them to seek shelter because of a terrorist attack. Police in Old Saybrook say the messageMore >
    Residents in a Connecticut shoreline town say they were startled when the local public address system instructed them to seek shelter because of a terrorist attack.More >
OLD SAYBROOK, CT (WFSB) -

Residents in Old Saybrook had quite the scare Sunday afternoon after the Office of Emergency Management public address system released a message over the town's public address system.

According to police, an unidentified dispatcher was trying to get a message to the fire department to clean up after a weekend event, but he sent out one of the prerecorded messages saying that there was a terrorist attack and to follow procedure.

"I can assure you that we've had this system for more than 10 years now, and this is the first mistake," said Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael Spera. "That is no excuse and we will still review our procedures and make sure they are the proper procedures to prevent miscommunication to the public."

The dispatcher realized the mistake and told his supervisor, who told Spera. Police sent out a message through the Everbridge system informing residents that there was no emergency and the alert was sent as a mistake.

"There is no emergency, and no homeland security crisis in or near the town of Old Saybrook," the message stated.

State and local authorities were notified about the message and an internal review was ordered to see if the system needs to be changed.

"The Town of Old Saybrook takes emergency preparedness and communication with the public during times of crisis very seriously," police said in a statement. "We have years of success using mass alerting systems to properly inform the public during emergencies and will continue that practice. Yesterday's incident was an extremely unfortunate and localized event."

Some residents told Eyewitness News that an internal review should have been done sooner.

"It's kind of interesting how to correct that mistake to reassure people that they're still safe," said Doree Wilcox, of Old Saybrook.

Spera said the loudspeakers, which are located at the firehouse on Main Street, Saybrook Point and Fenwick,  have been of great use during our most recent tropical storms and they will continue to use them in the future.

The loudspeakers were originally put in place to warn residents of a meltdown at the nearby Millstone Nuclear Power Station.

Spera said he is not naming the dispatcher who made the mistake Sunday, or saying how much experience he or she has. Any disciplinary action will come out of that internal review, Spera said.

Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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