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Chautauqua County’s emergency dispatch radio system is running into delays

MAYVILLE – Delays in getting approval from Canadian authorities for radio frequencies for emergency services were reported to members of the Chautauqua County Public Safety Committee on Wednesday at their regular meeting in the Gerace Office Building.

Representatives from Motorola, the contractor setting up the new emergency dispatch radio system, said that four more approvals are needed for frequencies planned for use in the system. They said that all radio communications in Chautauqua County require Canadian approval because of the proximity to the international border.

The radio company has been working on reprogramming a new low-frequency system for the county for a year. The radio system was financed through a New York State 911 Grant for about $1 million.

The representatives said they will apply for an extension on the grant, which expires in May. The outdoor work on antennas will still need to be done in good weather. They said if Canadian approval is not received soon, the outdoor work will not be completed until next summer.

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace said the new system should be compatible with Federal Communications Commission requirements for several years.

In other matters before the committee:

• County Emergency Management Services Coordinator Julius Leone reported that a $55,911 grant for emergency services was received from the Division of Homeland Security. Leone said the amount is a matching funds grant. He said the county will provide an equal amount of in-kind services to match the funding.

Leone also provided committee members a list of projected changes that he anticipates will increase his budget in 2015. He said that services are provided to 42 fire departments in the county, and his department will request funding to do a comprehensive study of fire and emergency medical response services.

Leone said the county has a critical shortage of emergency medical technicians and that a class for training them in Jamestown was canceled this year due to lack of enrollment. He said only nine new EMTs enrolled in a class in Fredonia this year. He said that in a typical year 30 to 40 people take the class and that there are major time requirements associated with the EMT course.

“Definitely, the amount of time it takes to train an EMT is more than ever,” Leone said. He said 160 hours are needed for the initial coursework.

He said that they will also seek funding for recruitment and retention of firefighters as the number of volunteers has decreased.

“Very few fire departments respond to a call by themselves anymore; most of the calls require mutual aid,” he said.

• An additional $150,000 in a three-year grant from Homeland Security was also approved. This grant did not require matching funds. An additional $50,000 Homeland Security Grant will be awarded to the Sheriff’s Office.

• The county’s Victims Assistance Center will receive $376,309 over the next three years for programs. The grant funding requires a 20 percent contribution, which is provided by in-kind services including office space, from the county.

• Warren Riles of Forestville and James Jackson of Lakewood were reappointed as county coroners.