Twelve years after the Sept. 11 attacks, and only months after bombs killed three people and injured many at the Boston Marathon, Stanislaus County is poised to receive this year’s Homeland Security grant – $536,600 – to prepare for terrorist assaults and other potential disasters.
It is the 12th grant received from the Department of Homeland Security and the state, which have awarded almost $11.6 million to Stanislaus since 2002. Often, local government agencies have spent the money on equipment purchases, such as a mobile command vehicle, a containment vessel for the sheriff’s bomb squad, data terminals for ambulance companies, or surveillance cameras for the Riverbank-Oakdale bus service.
In 2007, the funding, combined with several other sources, paid for a $3.9 million emergency dispatch system for Stanislaus Regional 911. Much of the hardware purchased by Homeland Security funds has seen regular use, while funding has been approved for other items that officials hope are never used in live incidents, such as nursing-care trailers for patients displaced from hospitals and a mobile morgue for the coroner’s office.
The grants also have funded training and planning efforts such as the All-Hazard Food and Agricultural Emergency Response Template for coordinating response to emergencies caused by crop pests or livestock viruses.
Nothing so ambitious is proposed for the latest grant. One priority is equipment purchases to improve communications between law enforcement and other emergency responders. Eighty-five portable or mobile radios will enable police units to talk with public works and transportation departments, hospitals and other agencies.
Officials want to improve surveillance for biological incidents and expand the capabilities of an emergency medical service rescue team. In addition, more training and planning were included in the grant request. The five executives who decide how the funds are allocated in Stanislaus County are county Public Health Officer John Walker, county Fire Warden Dale Skiles, Sheriff Adam Christianson, Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll and Turlock Fire Chief Tim Lohman.