By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – Automated emergency alert systems are used just about everywhere.

This weekend in Hawaii a false alert warning of an inbound ballistic missile set off a fury of concerns and questions about Denver’s own Office of Emergency Management.

(credit: CBS)

When disaster strikes, will Denver be ready?

“Yes. So, we are prepared, and we are working on that daily to improve that even further,” said David Powell.

(credit: CBS)

Powell, a coordinator with Denver’s Office of Emergency Management, says that includes all natural and man-made disasters, even an inbound ballistic missile.

“Yes, that would be one of them,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

A false alert warning of that very event went out on Hawaii’s emergency system.

(credit: CBS)

Coloradans returning home from Honolulu described getting that notice.

“We thought it was the end for about 10 minutes,” said Doriane Tippet of Fort Collins.

Her husband, John, was back at their hotel.

John Tippet (credit: CBS)

“There’s no place you can take shelter. If you have an incoming nuke, certainly a nuclear bomb, you can’t take shelter anywhere so I just stayed in bed,” John said.

Officials in Hawaii say an employee doing a routine test hit the live alert button by mistake.

Denver uses the same system, and is one of few municipalities in the state that can push the alert locally.

(credit: CBS)

“We do have a process to set those off that makes it very difficult to set off an inadvertently alert, and we are very careful to ensure it’s only set off during an emergency,” Powell said.

An audit on their office last month showed our response plans could use improving.

Everything from providing frontline services to citizens to maintaining city infrastructure.

Powell says the recommendations will only strengthen the city’s preparedness.

“No matter what the risk is make sure we have the ability to evacuate, make sure we have the ability to shelter, make sure we can coordinate those operations and those are things we are always looking at, reevaluating and working to improve,” he said.

LINK: Office Of Emergency Management Continuity Of Operations Audit Report

Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.

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