Emergency communications money allotted

Kelly S. Mayette, a dispatcher for St. Lawrence County Emergency Services, works at her station in 2016 at the county’s Public Safety Complex in Canton. Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul on Wednesday announced $45 million in grant funding to improve emergency communications statewide, including in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties. Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul on Wednesday announced $45 million in grant funding to improve emergency communications statewide.

More than $2.2 million will benefit north country emergency communications across St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties.

St. Lawrence County is set to receive $806,143; Jefferson County will receive $761,649; and Lewis County will get $684,510.

According to a press release from Gov. Hochul’s office, the funding “will enable local governments to expand their ability to communicate, exchange valuable data and streamline information to enhance collaboration and assist first responders.”

“One of the keys to successful emergency response is a communications structure that all responders can depend on to relay important information and improve overall response activities,” Gov. Hochul said. “This grant will ensure our firefighters, police officers, EMTs and paramedics and anyone who responds to a disaster will have the tools and training they need to communicate more effectively and efficiently.”

The money comes from the Statewide Interoperable Communications program, which is administered by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. It has awarded $472 million to municipalities since December 2011. It is funded through cellular surcharge revenue, according to the press release.

“Our emergency responders depend on robust and secure communications systems connecting them to vital information and services,” said Patrick A. Murphy, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services commissioner. “Information sharing between responders allows New Yorkers to get the help they need when it matters most.”

Plans are already in place in St. Lawrence and Lewis counties for spending the grant money.

“We’re looking to upgrade our radio system for all fire and EMS for the county,” said St. Lawrence County Emergency Services Director Matthew R. Denner.

He said they will also likely use the money to erect new communication towers in areas with bleak coverage.

Emergency services is planning a new dispatch center, which will move from the first floor to the second floor of the Public Safety Complex on Court Street in Canton. The grant would help fund some of that, he said.

“We’re ecstatic to get some of this funding, that helps offset the needed upgrades, so we’re definitely welcoming it,” Mr. Denner said.

Lewis County also plans to update its radio system.

“Our radio system is 5, 6 years old, so we’re going to use the money to help maintain it,” said Cheryl A. LaLonde, the county’s 911 operations coordinator. “We are in the process of updating some repeaters, which is radio equipment. And if there’s something that needs to be fixed in an emergency, the funds will go toward that.”

Ms. LaLonde said the radio system is for all Lewis County responders, including law enforcement, fire, ambulance and Lowville and South Lewis school buses, as well as the county Highway Department.

“We’re kind of in a maintenance phase right now. We’re updating them before they stop working,” she said. “We have a lot of users that depend on that system.”

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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