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Cuts make sharing vital



Published: Wed, April 27, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The county's Homeland Security funds were cut 40 percent this year.

CANFIELD -- A reduction in state and national Homeland Security money has made regional sharing of services and equipment more critical, said the head of Mahoning County's Emergency Management Agency & amp; Communications.

The EMA's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive Advisory Group and the Local Emergency Planning Commission held a meeting Tuesday at Mill Creek MetroParks' McMahon Hall and nearby parking lot here to show off equipment purchased with 2004 Homeland Security funds and to discuss how a reduction in those funds affects the area's security strategies.

Attendance

More than 30 people representing the county's safety forces, health departments and hospitals attended the session in which presentations were made by Walter M. Duzzny, director of the county's EMA; Charles Coleman, chairman of the EMA's advisory group; and Clark A. Jones, EMA operations supervisor.

The EMA advisory group is in charge of identifying and prioritizing equipment purchases and training needed to implement Ohio and national Homeland Security strategies.

Jones said the advisory group's fiscal report for 2004 showed $811,411 spent on equipment in Mahoning County.

Major items bought in the past year included the EMA's 37-foot mobile command post vehicle and a state-of-the-art containment vessel for the Youngstown Bomb Squad that also can be used to isolate and transport chemical agents.

Coleman reported, however, that this year, Mahoning is getting only $545,000 to pay for equipment and training, a 40 percent drop from last year. The advisory group received 47 requests from 15 organizations totaling $823,600.

Coleman said that $430,000 of the $545,000 is available for equipment. The rest is for training and contingencies.

Duzzny said that regionalization -- sharing equipment and manpower -- is what the state and federal Homeland Security brass is calling for because there is not enough money to fund the security needs of every county in the country.

13-county region

Boardman Fire Chief Jim Dorman said Mahoning is part of a 13-county region in Ohio that will handle emergencies in this part of the state, and Duzzny said the state has requirements that emergency equipment be made available to other agencies in other counties at their request.

He said Mahoning also will be moving equipment to other parts of the state if need be, and the EMA will be participating in more statewide simulated emergencies.

Finally, Duzzny said, the county will have to find a convenient, centralized place to store the millions of dollars worth of security equipment.

"If we don't find a place, that equipment will sit out and rot," he said, explaining that while some equipment is stored at various county fire departments and other agencies, other equipment sits outside.

He said a storage building will be a main issue for 2006 funding, and that Homeland Security money could be used to build it.




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