The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) recently allocated over $3 million dollars in Homeland Security grant funds to thirteen (13) different projects in the CAPCOG service area, a ten-county area bisected by I-35. In addition, almost $61,000 was also distributed to four more projects in support of the Citizen Corps Program (CCP) and $321,221 will be provided to the City of Austin for the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) preparedness activities.
Projects in the region that received funding this year include: * Regional Homeland Security Planning – including staff, planning, and training and support for regional resources
* Communications Towers – radio towers in two counties to expand capabilities in the west area of the COG
* Funds for maintenance of Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) Equipment and for an annual CBRNE drill
* Urban Search & Rescue Equipment
* Federally-required training for first responders in the region
* Additional response equipment for the Austin Police Department Bomb Squad
* GasID – a portable system for detecting and identifying toxic gases for HAZMAT response
* All Hazards Strategic Plan – a contract to develop a regional strategic plan, including a template for local planning for emergency response
* Equipment and coordination activities for CERT and Citizen Corps teams in three counties
* Support for volunteer outreach in the community on wildfire preparedness and planning in Bastrop County
According to Betty Voights, Executive Director of CAPCOG, Texas uses a regional approach to its homeland security planning. CAPCOG was responsible for allocating this latest round of federal funding
for several strategies that reinforce the response capacity to a natural or man-made catastrophic event. By using a homeland security task force of law enforcement, fire, EMS, and emergency management coordinators from small and large cities and counties to plan for and target funds to multiple aspects of disaster preparedness.
When funding first began flowing to Texas regions in 2003, CAPCOG’s homeland security task force recognized that the funding needed to be used not only judiciously, but keeping in mind that the funds wouldn’t flow forever. Our region decided to place key equipment in support of strike team responses along the Corridor in larger jurisdictions because that’s where the highest risk exists. However, those larger jurisdictions also are more fiscally capable of providing the long term support for maintaining and staffing the equipment. Members of the task force participate in specifying the equipment needed even though they may not be from the city or county buying that equipment; it was a regional effort, added Voights.
by David Partlow