March 08, 2005

Crapo: First Responders Need Tools Against Terrorism

Committee OKs measure to provide grants to emergency fire, medical, law agencies

Washington, DC -Idaho Senator Mike Crapo gave his approval to legislation that would enhance the capabilities of first responders to prepare for and respond to both natural disasters and terrorism incidents. The measure, S. 930, the Emergency Preparedness and Response Act of 2003, was reported out by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this morning and will be scheduled for a vote by the full Senate.â??Our first responders are the ones who arrive immediately on the scene of an accident or event, and they need to be trained and equipped to handle a wide array of incidents,â?? Crapo explained. â??The measure underscores that need by authorizing additional funding for those who are on the front lines of natural disasters, accidents, and incidents of terrorism. If enacted, the Director of the Idaho Bureau of Disaster Services had told me that he plans to use the funding to ensure that all of Idaho's 44 counties have at least one fulltime emergency management coordinator. The funds could also be used in other local government efforts to support emergency efforts. Idahoâ??s emergency personnel will benefit under the programs authorized in this legislation, and will have the opportunity to receive additional training and equipment. The tragic events of September 11th demonstrated that we need to prepare not only for natural disasters, but for any possible emergency situations.â??The legislation authorizes funds to be available through fiscal year 2007 for grant assistance to fire, emergency, medical service and law enforcement personnel. It is expected that, if enacted, each state should receive at least $15 million each year. The grants can be used for equipment, planning, training exercises and facilities, emergency response centers, and developing mutual aid agreements. It also authorizes additional assistance of up to $1.5 million each for designated Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces. It also requires a study to determine the resources needed for the development of an effective nationwide communications system for emergency response personnel.# # #