Delaware Co. 911 made decision to trigger tornado sirens

DELAWARE, OH (WCMH) — A Delaware County 911 Center supervisor made a decision that could have saved lives.

Sirens sounded in Delaware County Saturday night. A tornado was on the ground, but there was no warning from the National Weather Service.

It was the first time since 1997 a supervisor sounded sirens in Delaware County without the help of a National Weather Service issued tornado warning.

Delaware County 911 Center director Patrick Brandt says, “Once you turn the key and hit the button, there is no going back.”

Supervisor PJ Roberts made the decision after receiving 911 calls from trained storm spotters. Brandt said a call from a retired deputy was particularly helpful.

Brandt adds, “Based on that and based on other calls we are getting, they made the judgement there was a tornado on the ground and they set it off.”

Lisa Early heard the sirens from her house Saturday night.  She was confused and thought the siren might be a test since no warning had been issued. She appreciates that sirens were ultimately sounded.  Early explains, “I am glad that they did what they did because of the campers here at the state park and the people getting ready for that ironman.”

Both Brandt and Delaware County Acting Emergency Manager Sandy Mackey say dispatcher PJ Roberts made the right call. They believe this was a tough decision that could have helped others stay safe.

Delaware County EMA acting director Sandy Mackey says, “He did absolutely the right thing. When you have no warning and law enforcement calling in with a sighting, you sound the sirens. Safety first and he did the right thing.”

Brandt tells NBC4 Roberts has worked in the 911 center for about three years.  Roberts was also named the county’s dispatcher of the year just last year.

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