Sullivan County will receive more than $840,000 in grant money to upgrade their emergency communication systems. Our Eva McKend spoke to county first responders and has more.
MONTICELLO, N.Y. - For Fallsburg Police Chief Simmie Williams and other first responders throughout Sullivan County, updating the emergency communications system means potentially saving lives.
Local law enforcement is encouraged to learn the county just won more than $850,000 in New York state grant money, funds they will use towards a ten million dollar upgrade. This includes new consoles at the 911 operations center and the reconstruction of outdated radio towers.
"We had a stabbing in Beverly Gardens Apartments and I know the people were concerned with how long it took the ambulance to arrive on the scene but when we have a crime scene like that, we can’t just start sending in EMS," Williams explained.
Upgrades mean efficiency and the ability for law enforcement, EMS and the fire department to communicate before they get to the scene.
"Particularly with Hurricane Sandy, we saw how important it is that people have communication. That seemed to be the biggest issue, people wanted to know what was going on. I think it is very important people know whatever emergency service is needed will get there as quickly as possible," said Cora Edwards, chairwoman of the Sullivan County Legislature's Public Safety Committee.
"Sullivan County like many counties is having a very difficult fiscal time. We have an outdated radio system. Our radio system today for emergency services is about 20 to 30 years old. The towers have served us well. The infrastructure has served us well but it’s certainly getting us to a situation where we need to look at upgrading," added Sullivan County E911 Coordinator Alex Rau.
Rau said it is critical for the state to continue to issue grants like the one Sullivan County received so that local counties can keep up with the pace of technology.
Last year the county also received more than one million dollars in grants. Rau said these state funds partially come from 911 cell phone bill surcharges.