Missouri City Awarded Grants For High-Tech Emergency Response System

22 11 2010

From a recent Missouri City News Release, November 22, 2010:

Missouri City is taking the first steps toward implementing a high-technology radio system that will provide residents with more efficient and effective responses from both the Police Department and Fire & Rescue Service.   A total of $463,917 in federal grant money awarded to the City will allow the Police Department and Fire & Rescue Service to purchase radio consoles that enhance the implementation and coordination of emergency response communications.

 The funds, received from the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative grant program, will help improve first-responder communications. The grant is funded 100 percent by UASI and does not require a local match from the City. The money will be used by the Fire and Police Departments to start the replacement of radio consoles used to dispatch firefighters and police officers to emergency scenes.  At their Nov. 15 meeting, City Council members approved the purchase and installation of the new equipment, which signals the beginning of the City’s transition to a mandated digital radio system for the City’s emergency communications systems.

Fire Chief Russell Sander and Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald noted that the grants “will greatly assist our departments in enhancing the City’s 911 communications center.”


FEMA Administrator Challenges Emergency Managers to Plan for Entire Community

5 11 2010

I was fortunate to attend the recent IAEM Conference held in Texas.   Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate on November 2, 2010, encouraged emergency managers and stakeholders from the private sector, public health and other fields to consider the capabilities and needs of the entire community, including people with disabilities and children, when planning for disasters.

Fugate delivered this message as part of his keynote address at the 58th Annual International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  He made a number of interesting comments to the professional emergency managers in attendance.  A common theme of his remarks was that “Emergency Management is not about easy.”  Emergency Management is also not for the faint hearted he said.  He felt emergency planning needs to be done in a new way— in a way that better serves the citizens, and he committed to changing FEMA planning documents to be inclusive of children, infants, elderly, pet owners, and those without transportation.  He asked all emergency managers to answer the question:  “Who are you planning for in your community?”

During his remarks, Fugate also urged the audience to participate in a new public challenge FEMA is hosting to come up with creative ideas on how we can prepare communities before disaster strikes. “Considering the needs of all members of our community and planning for worst case scenarios is exactly why we need a strong emergency management team – a team that FEMA is only one member of,” said Fugate. “We know government can’t do it alone – many of the most innovative ideas for how we can protect all members of our community from the impacts of disasters will come from you.  That’s why we are engaging the entire team in this effort to crowd source solutions by submitting creative ideas to http://challenge.gov/fema.”

In addition, Fugate discussed the need for all stakeholders to prepare for worst case scenarios, what he calls “Maximum of Maximums” – disasters that go beyond the capability of government resources.  Under Fugate’s leadership, FEMA has focused on engaging a diverse group of stakeholders in these efforts.  In September, FEMA hosted the first-ever National “Getting Real” Conference, which brought together leaders from the emergency management and disability communities to discuss strategies to integrate the entire community into emergency planning.  FEMA also recently hosted its first-ever Latino Leadership Summit and Black Leadership Forum, which engaged stakeholders in discussions about how to better involve the entire community in emergency planning.

Fugate launched FEMA’s new public challenge last week at a separate conference in San Diego, Calif.  The IAEM Annual Conference provides a forum to share information about the latest trends, tools and technology in emergency management and homeland security.  Sessions encourage stakeholders at all levels of government, the private sector, public health and related professions to exchange ideas on collaborating to protect lives and property from disasters.

New Fort Bend EMS building opens

4 11 2010

From Tuesday, November 2 Fort Bend Herald article by Don Munsch:

Michael McDill said when the former Emergency Medical Service building opened about 26 years ago, he thought it was the Taj Mahal.  The new EMS building may not be confused with the renowned Indian mausoleum, but is considered a welcome upgrade nonetheless.

County, fire department and emergency services employees attended a ribbon cutting for the new EMS building on Texas 36 in Rosenberg on Monday.  EMS employees moved into the new building about 2 1/2 weeks ago, but are still in the process of moving in, said McDill, EMS deputy chief clinical.

Don Brady, director of the facilities management and planning department for Fort Bend County, said that with only a couple of minor punch list items remaining, the cost of the new building to date is $2.4 million.

The old building is currently being used by the county collections department, which reports to the county treasurer, Brady said.  The county plans to ultimately move collections to the Travis Building once the new justice center opens, and the building will revert to the parks department, which oversees operations at the fairgrounds, Brady said.

McDill gave a tour of the new building, which features a multipurpose room, four dormitory rooms, inventory warehouse, conference room, kitchen, living room, administrative offices, a large garage and plenty of storage space.  The multipurpose room seats 40 people and contains two flat-screen televisions, a projector screen for PowerPoint presentations and a CPR dummy.

The new building will have one ambulance on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and then has one ambulance called a ready reserve, which means it’s licensed by the state and can be used at a moment’s notice.  Two emergency response/disaster units are being housed at the new building. The plan is for one of them to be stationed in the east side of the county, McDill said.

“We love it,” McDill said about the new building. “We’ve been without a classroom for over 10 years, so we’ve been borrowing, begging, carrying our equipment to other places to teach.

“But now we’ll be able to do it in house.”

Daniel Kosler, director of Emergency Medical Service, was excited about the new building.  “It’s a building that we’ve been looking forward to for a number of years,” he said. “It allows to function in a true office environment.

“Our previous office was somewhat tight.”

“To be in this building provides a really great feeling.”

Some paperwork and equipment eventually will have to be moved into the new building from the old building, but fortunately, he said, “it’s only 30 yards away.”  The building provides service for 90 percent of the county. EMS employees have offices and mobile response units with fire departments around the county.