Friday, July 06, 2012

News and Information

To: All Ulster County Emergency Services From: Art Snyder Date: July 2, 2012 Re: News and Information Central Hudson – We enjoyed a productive meeting with Central Hudson officials in late June. Unfortunately, this was just before the Public Service Commission issued their assessment of the response by all New York State utilities to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. CHG&E was anxiously awaiting comments so they could incorporate the findings into their response plans. Issues such as liability for downed wires and the use of social media for communications with the public were two of the expected recommendations (and they were). CHG&E has developed a program for enhancing the use of flaggers to keep bystanders away from potentially live wires. They also now have a new procedure to track both outages, and downed wires (not necessarily a synonymous occurrence). We discussed the subject of relieving first responders at the scene of downed wires, and the potential use of task forces to expedite cleanup. Both issues are contingent on the magnitude of the event and the resources available. The previously mentioned newly-trained flaggers will be used to free up emergency service units. With respect to the task force concept, again, magnitude and resources are key. For a company-wide event there are more municipalities than the utility has crews. Therefore, it is not always physically possible to pair a line crew with a highway department crew. In fact, in some cases this may very well lead to a longer overall restoration of service for the community. Clerical position at EC/EM – after 15 years of dedicated service, Jo Hale has retired. Jo has been a pillar of this office and she will be sorely missed. On a positive note, Jo’s replacement will be authorized for full time hours. Tammy Wilson is joining the office on July 5. Please welcome her. Tammy will continue the tradition of providing support for both EC/EM and the Fire Coordinator’s Office. Dutchess County narrow banding – I’ve previously identified our schedule for conversion to narrow banding. For those of you who work in the Dutchess system as well, I’d like to share information from Dana Smith of Dutchess County Emergency Response. Group Channels affected Scheduled date VHF Police Channels 1 & 2 August 14 VHF EMS Frequencies 280, 340, 400, 745 and 760 September 18 UHF Med All med channels August 15 UHF Fire All fire ground R2, C3, and field ops medevac October 16 Fire Police No sites involved N/A UHF simulcast paging “Flash” cutover needed on all pagers and paging radios October 17 Emergency Operations Center – The NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has authorized purchase of a number of pieces of technology from a grant program. These devices are on order. The Buildings and Grounds division of UC DPW is currently renovating space in the Law Enforcement Center for the EOC. Training of Executive level staff is on-going. The EOC will be opened for major incidents. Emergency Response Guidebooks – We have taken delivery of the 2012 edition of the Emergency Response Guidebooks. These will be available for pickup beginning Monday July 9. Please limit your request to the number of pieces of apparatus you have. Also, please call during normal business hours to make arrangements for the pickup. Thank you. Radio system update – As previously discussed, acquisition of frequencies has been a major obstacle – VHF is unavailable, the cost to purchase UHF frequencies would be in excess of $1 million, and 700 MHz equipment is too pricey for the end user. Blue Wing has done extensive work to lay out solid coverage, coupled with a reasonable price tag. At this point the most viable option is an 800 MHz system with FDMA architecture. This will provide the required coverage, and be more affordable to the end user than TDMA. The Executive’s Office will be updated and we are hopeful to present a system design to the Legislature in August. After that we will be able to formally brief the emergency services with the proposed design. If both County government, and the emergency services support the plan, we will move from planning to implementation. If either the County or the emergency services do not support the plan, we will have done the background work necessary for a new radio system, and will be ready to roll out the plan at a future date when the support is there. UC 911 storm policy – Deputy Director Peterson has completed drafting new operational guidelines for the 911 Center’s receipt and processing of calls during violent storms. These events can be sudden and overwhelming to both your agency and ours. Incidents such as outdoor electrical calls, trees down, blocked roads, public service calls, etc. all must be prioritized with the normal influx of emergencies that continue to occur. Most of the guidance is internal to this office; all procedures are designed to efficiently utilize all available resources. Before we implement the new guidelines we are awaiting the results of Central Hudson’s response to the Public Service Commission’s recommendations, and any changes that will have on their response to these incidents.