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Scott County, Miss. Purchases New Emergency Response Equipment With Grants

Several combined homeland security grants have allowed county and city emergency management and law enforcement agencies to purchase new equipment and improve response time in case of a terror attack or natural disaster.

Under the State Homeland Security Grant Program, the Department of Public Safety awarded $125,000 to the county and a combined total of $43,000 to Forest, Lake and Sebastopol earlier this year.

In an effort to improve the county emergency management agency's response tools, all of the grant money was pooled to purchase new vehicles and additional equipment, said Alvin Seaney, director of emergency management for Scott County.

"We tried to buy equipment that we could use in case of a natural disaster, not just a terror attack," Seaney said.

The county purchased one new truck and two equipment trailers. One trailer houses DCON equipment, which can remove hazardous materials during a chemical disaster. The trailer is stored in Forest but can be delivered to any site in the county if a chemical disaster occurs. The trailer houses chemical suits and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs).

An additional truck called a "primary mover" was ordered as part of the funds allocated to Forest and will pull one of the trailers, Seaney said. Two all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) were also purchased, and a trailer with one ATV will serve as a command post in Ludlow. Seaney lives in Ludlow and can respond faster with the post nearby, he said.

Forest grant funds allowed for new backboards and other equipment. Lake grant money was responsible for the purchase of new radio equipment for a county command post and emergency management pickup truck and a lighting system. Money given to Sebastopol was used for a rescue chair, generator and additional lighting equipment.

Seaney said he believes the combing of the grants to create one central command area will shorten the response time during an attack or natural disaster.

In another grant project pending final approval, county and law enforcement agencies are eligible to receive new equipment to heighten their security services. The Scott County Sheriff's Department may receive the funds to purchase a high-band radio system. The Forest Police Department also looks to purchase a thermal-imaging camera that would locate individuals based on body heat during a crime or accident. The camera would be accessible for the whole county.

"It would be a great tool on the law enforcement side," Seaney said, noting that the camera increased the chances of locating persons after a crime is committed.

The county may also receive new digital road mapping software that would aid during dispatching. As calls are received, the software pinpoints the location of the call on a map. In the near future, the software will be able to detect cell phone calls as well.

"It will hopefully cut down on prank calls," Seaney said, noting that the county receives 10 to 20 prank calls per week from cell phones.

Global Positioning System (GPS) software, a portable repeater system and an ID badging system will also be purchased pending grant approval. The ID badging system would help to assure that only law enforcement officers and trained officials could gain access to restricted areas.

"That way if we have a disaster, the only way to enter the disaster area is with a proper ID," Seaney said.

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