Tuesday, December 01, 2009

December First Alarm Newsletter

To: Ulster County Emergency Services
From: Art Snyder
Date: December 1, 2009
Re: News and Information

American Red Cross – Ulster County Chapter – There have been some personnel changes that you should be aware of. John-Anthony Bruno is the new Executive Director and Michael Hayden is the new Chapter Services Coordinator.

DEC Burn Policy – The new DEC outdoor burn regulations that took effect on October 14 have caused heartburn for this office as well as for agencies in the field. People that have been accustomed to calling in on an almost daily basis are being told about the new rules. However, our explanation stops short of getting into a confrontation or trying to police this activity over the phone. Some departments are photo copying and distributing the frequently asked questions found at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/58519.html and providing them to the homeowner.

H1N1 flu – The H1N1 vaccine is becoming more readily available. EMS agencies should contact their medical director for vaccinations. The Ulster County Health Department is following the guidance of the NYS DOH and the federal CDC in their H1N1 efforts. Regularly updated information can be found at: http://www.ulstercountyny.gov/health/swinefluinfo.html

NG 911 phone system – On December 17 the Purchasing department will open proposals for a “next generation” or NG 911 phone system. NG will give the public the ability to text information to 911 (something not yet available and which must be explained in public education messages), video and pictures from an incident scene, and even telemetry from monitoring devices (automatic crash notification systems, etc). Currently there is only one test site in the country (a very small community with only one wireless provider and one telephone company end office) where NG 911 is deployed. However, we must replace our 16 year old phone system and this is the perfect opportunity to position ourselves to accept NG 911 once it is fully implemented.

Pre-hospital Care Reports (PCRs) – As you may be aware there is a shortage of PCR forms. Attached is a letter from Lee Burns of the NYS DOH Bureau of EMS that provides background and insight into this problem.

Radio procedure changes – We have met with all fire and EMS agencies concerning proposed new radio procedures. These will be formalized and can be expected to be mailed by February. The input obtained in these one-on-one meetings has been invaluable. Guidelines to streamline police polling will be out shortly.

Recruitment and Retention – There was limited support for the first annual countywide open house. Thank you to all who participated. A final kickoff meeting is scheduled for Tuesday December 8 at 7 pm at the Stone Ridge firehouse. This is for all departments unable to send anyone to the original series of meetings held over the summer. I’ve received several inquiries about the businesses participating in the VIP plan. Unfortunately the poor economy has hindered the Chamber’s ability to get many businesses to participate. You can find a list of those currently involved in the program at: http://program.ulsterchamber.org/ Please encourage businesses in your community to contact Bob Hirsch at the Chamber to sign up for the program. And remember to thank those businesses already on board. Recently passed legislation that will put a “check the box” for a voluntary contribution of $1 to the statewide recruitment and retention fund on all state income tax returns is expected to generate $1 million annually.

Text messaging – Ever since text messaging of CAD calls was introduced, it was billed as a supplemental means of alerting. We made it clear this program uses several systems in the private sector network over which we have no control. There are periodic problems with both the bulk e-mails we send as text messaging, and the ability of the vendor to recognize the messaging as something other than spam, all of which contribute to delays or failed attempts. In an effort to minimize the delays, the County’s Information Services department investigated switching modems that would send out calls directly as an SMS message instead of as an e-mail. However, this solution would require each page to be sent out sequentially (at approximately 6-8 seconds each). For some departments with a large number of pagers/phones in the system, this means it would take over 5 minutes to get through everyone in the home department; now consider if this is a mutual aid call with multiple departments. We are not going to employ a solution that creates a different problem. While we continue to look for ways to enhance text messaging I must reiterate that this is a supplemental means of alerting.

Best wishes for a safe and Happy Holiday Season from the staff at
Ulster County Emergency Communications / Emergency Management.