Town Supervisor Paula Mahan is flanked by Assemblyman Phil Steck to her right and state Sen. Neil Breslin to her left during a press conference announcing funding for a new mobile command center. Jim Franco/Spotlight News
COLONIE — Thanks to two state grants, the town will be purchasing a mobile command center.
Sen. Neil Breslin and Assemblyman Phil Steck each came up with $250,000 to purchase a new vehicle to replace the 40-year-old command center the town’s public safety departments use during certain emergencies.
Last year, town personnel responded to more than 93,000 police, fire and EMS incidents. The command post will only be used on the most extreme calls. It has about 83,000 residents in town but with commuter traffic, that number swells to more than 200,000 during any given weekday.
“Without this funding we would not be allowed to purchase this command post at this time,” Supervisor Paula Mahan said. “Public safety is of utmost importance at in Colonie and we need this vehicle because we have to be prepared for any serious or complex incidents that happen and the command post we have been using is about 40 years old so it’s at its life span.”
The total cost of a new command center will cost between $450,000 and $475,000 and the remaining money will be used for fit up equipment.
Other departments like the Albany County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police have their own mobile command centers.
“We do share. We have mutual aid with different agencies and municipalities but when we have the most serious situations, we hope we don’t, you have to be able to respond with a great amount of people,” she said. “We can never be too ready. We take a proactive approach. We are a very, very large town. If something is happening one place in the Capital Region and something is happening in another spot, one unit can’t be everywhere.”
At the press conference announcing the grants, were members of the Colonie Police Department, fire departments and EMS.
“The emergency personnel to my left and right were very smart. They showed the assemblyman and myself the old vehicle so we understood the need, and the need is great,” Breslin said. “The Town of Colonie is the center of the Capital Region where various police and fire agencies can use it and share it to come up with the best possible way to address major incidents. I salute those agencies for coming together to coral us and Supervisor Mahan was persistent, and that is a generous word, in reinforcing that need.”
Steck said there is an additional $250,000 request to purchase a new vehicle for the EMS Department currently being reviewed by the division of budget.
“Colonie is the largest part of my district so we obviously try to stay in touch with the town leadership to see what we need and of course our police and EMS are among the most respected anywhere and at the top of the list in terms of effectiveness so we do everything we can to assist them in doing their work,” Steck said. “EMS saved one of my best friends who had a heart condition and collapsed at a local gym so we know very well, in a very human way, what they do.”
Police Chief Jonathan Teale said the new mobile command post will be used when emergency personnel respond to such things as natural disasters, severe weather events, large fires, community events and large scale law enforcement related incidents.
“Our current command post is forty years old and no longer meets the demands of our first responders,” he said. “A modern mobile command post also brings additional resources to a scene and improves coordination among different agencies and municipalities to manage major events.”
EMS Chief Chris Kostyun said complex incidents “required detailed documentation to provide for responder tracking and safety, planning for ongoing operations, logistics to acquire resource and financial tools to detail expenses for possible reimbursement for state and federal relief.”
“From an EMS perspective, the new post will provide radio system interoperability when bringing multiple agencies together for complex public gatherings, multi-casualty incidents, or long-term fire or hazardous materials incidents,” Kostyun said.
For the fire departments, Senior Fire Protection Specialist Joseph Bisognano said the mobile command post “will be beneficial during long-duration building fires or hazardous materials incidents in providing a clean, quiet environment for command staff to work and discuss strategies, as well as the communications capability to call for additional resources.”
“For my fire investigation group, it will provide a quiet environment to conduct interviews as well as have a location at the scene to accommodate all investigative personnel to discuss the investigation, to take breaks, get warm during cold weather, and have access to additional resources,” Bisognano said.