By CHRIS AGEE
Mineral Wells police dispatchers were inundated with calls Wednesday evening after the city’s weather sirens sounded ahead of a devastating storm.
MWPD Chief Dean Sullivan said the majority of those calls were inquiries into the nature of the warning, explaining the department received about 200 calls within 15 minutes of the event.
“We just got overwhelmed with calls – both into the police non-emergency and 911 as well – asking why the sirens were going off,” he said. “That overload puts others with a real need for emergency police, medical, fire, or other non-emergency police type actions at risk.”
The sirens serve as a warning for a number of emergencies, he added, and the sound of the siren is the same in all situations.
“Emergency weather sirens are primarily for tornado warnings, severe storm warnings where all the parts and pieces are in place for a tornado to occur,” he said.
He explained the siren is tested the first Friday of each month at 10 a.m. and, aside from that time, all warnings should be taken seriously.
“That’s the only planned siren,” he noted. “Anything else should be considered an emergency situation.”
Instead of phoning authorities, he urged locals to seek shelter whenever the sirens are sounded.
“A lot of times we don’t have too much time when a tornado warning, severe warning or confirmation of a funnel approaching our community,” he said. “We might only get a moment’s notice so we have to get the sirens going. As long as they’re sounding, that should be an indication there is danger present.”
He said calling authorities to ask about the sirens is “not an appropriate use” of 911 and encouraged locals to trust local sources with current information.
“The Index does an excellent job of posting what weather situation is in the area,” he said.
The Index’s Facebook page, facebook.com/mineralwellsindex, is updated regularly and will include the latest data in the event of any local emergency.