Although the Verizon 911 system that the county uses for emergency responses is still “unstable,” the county’s director of emergency management is confident that tomorrow’s fireworks will be as safe as every year, and he is encouraging people to “have fun.”
"The fireworks are on....the fireworks are going to happen,” Jack Brown told the Mercury today. He said the county plans to deploy just about every first responder they have to make sure people are safe for the event.
The police, fire and sheriff departments will be on hand, especially at the Marine Corp. Memorial (Iwo Jima) and Long Bridge Park, where the county is holding an official July 4 celebration.
"Service has been restored much better than what it was, but it's still not reliable,” Brown said.
His concern has been with the 16,000 people still without power and an iffy emergency telephone system. Adding a special event onto that was concerning.
"We're going to be OK. My concern is with not having Verizon 911 completely up and running--and guaranteed it's stable--I’m just concerned about having a special event like that," he said.
When he gave interviews yesterday calling on the National Park Service to consider cancelling the event, he really just wanted to get decision makers thinking about this, he said today, adding that it's his job to think "outside the box."
He said that people should still call 911 in an emergency. However, first responders will be out in many areas.
"They're visible,” he said. “If there's a first responder close by, just tell him," and that person will handle the emergency communications.
The sentiment was echoed this morning by U.S. Park Police.
"It's going to be pretty much like it has been in years past,” said U.S. Park Police Sgt. Paul Brooks. He reminded people to drink water, but leave alcohol, weapons and fireworks at home.
There is no parking on the George Washington Parkway grass, but Gravelly Point, near Reagan National Airport will be open.
Although the USPP does not have anything more than normal prepared for tomorrow, the officers will be out in force.
Brooks said, "It's a very large detail [scheduled] in the G.W. parkway.”