VA, NASA, NARA beat millennium bug

Nurses and technicians began floorbyfloor sweeps through five vetera

Nurses and technicians began floor-by-floor sweeps through five veterans hospitals in upstate New York just after the clock signaled midnight, checking vital signs and testing responses. The patients glowed and beeped in response, demonstrating that they were uninfected by the "millennium bug."

More than 100 extra medical and computer personnel were on duty as the new year dawned to test electrocardiogram machines and intensive care monitors, lab computers and payroll processors, phone systems and power supplies. VA officials had testified last year that non-Year 2000-compliant medical devices were one of their primary concerns.

But the bug didn't bite.

"Everything's a green light," David Wood, a spokesman for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Albany, said at 1 a.m. "We didn't expect to experience anything major, but we thought we might see some minor problems. Se far we've seen nothing at all."

The anticipated Year 2000-compliance problem also turned out to be no problem at Cape Canaveral, Fla., where a four-member "Y2K action team" saw little action.

Launch operations and range operations had been halted days before to preclude the most serious problems Air Force officials could imagine if computers refused to function when 1999 turned into 2000. No planes were flying, no rockets were being readied.

"But we still have a power system and communications and people living in base housing" at nearby Patrick Air Force Base, said Ken Warren, spokesman for the Air Force's 45th Space Wing.

But the power stayed on and the phones kept working.

"It was virtually a non-event," Warren said. And that's what the Air Force wanted. "We had a Y2K office for several months and we tested all of our systems. They were either all Y2K compliant or had work-arounds."

The new year arrived an hour later in West Branch, Iowa, where Raleigh Owens was waiting to greet it at the Herbert Hoover presidential library.

There should not have been any trouble at the library, which is run by the National Archives and Records Administration. The computers and electronic systems had been tested and declared ready well before the end of the year. Still Owens, the library facilities manager, had to be there at midnight to turn on the computers and test the heating, ventilation and phones and report back to Washington.

The systems checked out fine, the call went through and Owens was done before 2000 in Iowa was an hour old.

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