Saratoga, Fulton and Montgomery counties have received state grant money to interlink their emergency communications systems with surrounding counties.
The state last week awarded $6.3 million to the three counties to buy the equipment needed to increase the ability of their police, fire and ambulance personnel to talk between counties.
Such communication ability can be helpful during region-wide disasters like those caused by tropical storms Irene and Lee in 2011, but will also be helpful on a routine basis, emergency planning officials said.
The plan is that the counties will become part of a 13-county communications consortium, interlinking emergency communications from the Mohawk River all the way to the Canadian border.
“It will be used daily. We will all have interconnectivity,” said Allan Polmateer, Fulton County’s civil defense director. “Everybody will be able to communicate with everybody else.”
The state a decade ago had plans to establish a state-operated, statewide emergency radio network, but never followed through. It is now seeking to address the same regional communications issues by funding local connectivity projects like the consortium.
The money will also help link Saratoga County’s communication system with Washington County, which is then linked to other countries throughout the Adirondacks.
“Everybody is going to be tied together by microwave, which is better than radio signal,” said Ed Tremblay, Saratoga County’s acting director of emergency services. “It will be easier to talk to each other.”
The amounts of the local grants are: Fulton County, $2,327,780; Saratoga County, $2,280,500; and Montgomery County, $1,685,554. Hamilton County, which adjoins Fulton and Saratoga counties, is receiving $2,530,385 toward communications upgrades.
The grants to the local counties were among $80 million in funding awarded statewide to strengthen local emergency preparedness capabilities. The grants, a combination of state and federal money, were awarded by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
“New York has seen some of the nation’s worst disasters in recent years, and this $80 million will go a long way to strengthening the network of locally based emergency response infrastructure across our state,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a news release.
The money will pay for microwave relay equipment and other hardware, though some may be used to pay technical experts to design details of the communications system.