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News Release    

February 10, 2003  

Steinhaus Convenes High Alert Readiness Session

At the direction of County Executive William R. Steinhaus, the Dutchess County Emergency Operations Center under the coordination of Emergency Service Coordinator DeWitt Sagendorph today convened a High Alert Readiness Session in response to the United States being put on high alert for potential terrorist activity.

Last Friday, within minutes of the alert status being raised, Steinhaus was in phone communication with senior staff and late Friday afternoon, met with principals from law enforcement, health services, and emergency personnel. The Monday session involving emergency preparedness and response was a follow up to the Friday discussion with the purpose of validating and reaffirming procedures and operational contingencies should the emergency operations center need to be activated.

“Ultimately,” the County Executive noted, “DeWitt Sagendorph our Emergency Response Coordinator, with Health Commissioner Michael Caldwell and our law enforcement leadership including Sheriff Anderson, New York State Police Major Fazio, local police and fire personnel coupled with our 911 Center would be the hub to coordinate any necessary response. “However,” Steinhaus emphasized, “We have many other key agencies and organizations that would be critical to a response should there be an event in Dutchess County, or nearby New York City that impacts our residents or businesses.”

Steinhaus said, “We have had long-term response plans and operational procedures in place that we constantly update and since 9/11/01 we have been even more proactive.” Emergency Response Coordinator DeWitt Sagendorph noted, “County Executive Steinhaus has insisted that we constantly review, update and improve our ability to respond to any natural or man-made emergency.” Last Fall’s adoption of a bioterrorism plan was another major step in our preparedness. All disasters are local and happen in a neighborhood, a town, or a city and we want to be sure our first responders are ready and trained. However, we also recognize any response is multi-layered and would require a combination of State and Federal response with resources as necessary.

Information on Dutchess County’s preparedness can be obtained on the Dutchess County website at http://www.co.dutchess.ny.us/CountyGov/EmergencyServices/ESprepare.htm.

In closing Steinhaus emphasized, “Like other U.S. communities, the core of our response to a terrorist event depends on our emergency response professionals as a core but we will also have a heavy reliance on volunteers. As the Executive of the County I want to extend my appreciation and gratitude on behalf of all our residents to the important work done by those professional volunteers.

In attendance at the meeting were:

Dutchess County Emergency Response
Dutchess County Health Department
Dutchess County Highway Department Department
American Red Cross
Police Chief’s Association
     Town of Poughkeepsie Police
     Hyde Park Police
Central Hudson
Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department
New York State Police
Vassar Brothers Medical Center
St. Francis Hospital


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