Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus has again made public safety a top priority in his 2008 Executive budget with more than $370,000 for Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response to provide volunteer and career emergency first responders with the tools and training necessary to serve and protect the residents of Dutchess County. The 2008 budget is scheduled for release on November 1st and as previously announced will provide a considerable tax rate decrease for county taxpayers. The budget will also reduce the county’s 2008 tax levy by keeping the 2008 spending change below the rate of inflation.
“We are so fortunate in Dutchess County to have so many dedicated men and women who give their time and energy to our local fire departments and EMS squads. We want to make sure we provide them the tools and equipment they need to get the job done safely,” said County Executive Steinhaus.
More than $100,000 has been earmarked for volunteer and career firefighting training resources. The Department of Emergency Response’s training program has grown significantly as the training requirements established by the Federal and State governments have expanded. Volunteers from across the county have expressed desire to have additional and enhanced training courses. The 2008 funding will continue to improve training with new educational materials and seminars for special teams and coordinators. New equipment will include a forcible entry simulator for rapid door entry, smoke machines and breathing air compressor used in interior firefighting and mask confidence training. The Department will also be able to increase the frequency of course offerings.
“We are here to aid the county’s Emergency First Responders as they work to serve and protect county residents,” said Dutchess County Emergency Response Coordinator John Murphy. “We are pleased to be able to respond to the needs of our volunteer and career first responders with more hands-on, specialized training. We have expanded our schedule of training courses and improved our training equipment to help them be prepared for all situations.”
County Executive Steinhaus has also directed over $225,000 for the purchase of upgraded tools and equipment such as a chemical agent detector instrument to allow the Hazardous Materials Response Team (Haz-Mat) to quickly and accurately identify solids and liquids such as chemical agents, toxic chemicals, white powders, narcotics, contraband and forensics. The funding will also provide for safety & protective gear, radios and communication supplies for volunteer teams including Critical Incident Stress Team, Fire Investigation Division, Fire Police Response Team and Hazardous Materials Response Team.
The 2008 funding for training, tools and equipment is part of County Executive Steinhaus’ ongoing public safety initiatives. “Our priority is to continue to upgrade and strengthen the county's public safety, emergency services and "first responder" capability and capacity,” said Steinhaus. “We are making sure we provide quality training for our Dutchess County volunteer and career emergency responders with state of the art training facilities, tools and equipment.”
Construction is about to begin on Phase One of the $10 million upgrade to the Emergency Response Campus which County Executive Steinhaus announced in September 2005. Phase One features a new Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The upgraded EOC will feature a state-of-the-art Emergency Command Center to coordinate activities in the event of any natural or man-made disaster. It will also feature a “Learning Lab” – a tiered training classroom that will provide a lecture type environment with new multi-media systems to allow for distance learning courses and assist local fire and EMS personnel in their training efforts.
County Executive Steinhaus also recently announced the installation of a Simulcast Radio Dispatch System for the Department of Emergency Response’s 9-1-1 Dispatch Center. This new system will provide improved radio transmission coverage for the County’s emergency first responders and law enforcement. Dutchess County will be one of the first counties in New York State to install this state-of-the-art technology.
“Our commitment to our volunteer and career emergency first responders is unwavering. By making smart investments in our facilities, in our equipment and in our training, we continue to strengthen communities and ensure we are keeping families safe throughout Dutchess County,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.