Emergency services benefits from grants

Published 11:10 am Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Several Lawrence County emergency services agencies will benefit from more than $49,000 in federal homeland security grant monies.

Lawrence County Homeland Security Advisory Team members said the grant funds are being used to improve the county’s radio communications capabilities.

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, emergency services agencies realized the weaknesses that existed when different types of agencies attempted to communicate with each other, Lawrence County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Boster said. The grant money will help correct some of the local communication issues.

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“One of Ohio’s goals is to develop a statewide interoperable communication system,” Boster said. “These limited federal dollars have provided much needed mobile radios and portable radios to four law enforcement agencies, the county health department and one fire department.”

Jeff Lawless, who is both Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office Chief deputy and a local homeland security advisory team member, agreed.

“Police in the villages of Proctorville, Chesapeake and Coal grove and well as the sheriff’s office, have received some new interoperable radio equipment, making it much easier to communicate with one another, our dispatch center and with fire and EMS units,” Lawless said. “As the homeland security advisory team was developing radio projects, we talked to county police departments to determine their communications needs. Some police departments had newer radio equipment and some (had equipment that) definitely needed improvement.”

Lawless noted that communication has historically been a problem everywhere and not just Lawrence County.

Also, the Lawrence County Health Department and Fayette Township Fire Department also got new radio equipment.

“The Lawrence County Health Department is pleased to receive this Department of Homeland Security grant to purchase a communication system,” Sam Suiter, health department emergency response coordinator, said. “Through various exercises and a formal review of our response capabilities, we discovered that our lack of communication equipment was our biggest hurdle to overcome in our ability to respond to various situations. These radios will allow us to communicate with federal, state and local partner agencies in the event of a public health emergency.”

Carl Kleinman, chief of the Fayette Township Fire District 2, said he is also pleased with the new radios.

“Deputy Chief Roger Crank and I received the radios from the Lawrence County EMA in August,” Kleinman said. “Our firefighters are now equipped with two-way radios that will allow for more effective communications during a response.”

The local homeland security advisory teams consists of government officials, emergency services personnel, public works officials and health department personnel. He team generally oversees the grant award processing by assessing needs or gaps in response capabilities and then guiding the development of projects that will bridge those gaps.