Albany County awarded $600k security grant

Funds will help build countywide emergency communications, terrorism prevention

— On the eve of Sept. 11, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy announced the county had been awarded nearly $600,000 by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to help improve crisis communications and prevent terrorist attacks.

“I’d like to say we live in a perfect world and this stuff doesn’t happened, but it does unfortunately,” McCoy said. “One of the things I’ve said is we need to be prepared for any type of emergency.”

The funds are being awarded through the 2013 State Homeland Security Grant and will be divided up between the Albany County Sheriff’s Office and the county Health Department, which will receive $334,700 and $262,750, respectively.

The Sheriff’s Office’s share will go toward building upon the county’s Interoperable Communications Systems. The Health Department will use its awarded funds to sustain homeland security personnel and programs and support terrorism prevention activities.

The Health Department grant will allow for the county to continue enhancing public health preparedness, training and recruitment for the county Medical Reserve Corps, and improving emergency medical response capabilities.

The Medical Reserve Corps is a group of volunteers, including many medical professionals, who prepare for various types of major public health emergencies. It consists of more than 500 volunteers, and McCoy said holding training exercises periodically is important to keep members prepared.

Upgrading the communications system will allow more local emergency services providers interact with one another in the event of an emergency. Keeping emergency communications up-to-date is an “extensive” task, McCoy said, but it allows for first responders and law enforcement to coordinate a joint response across the county. He said Colonie operates on a different radio system than the countywide system, for example, so its police and firefighters can’t communicate with surrounding agencies easily.

“It costs so much money to update it,” he said. “This will allow for a continuity of communications efforts.”

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