Fulton County has been awarded more than $126,000 from the Department of Homeland Security and Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) to equip Salem's hazardous materials team.
Fulton County Judge Curren Everett; Scott Moody, director of Fulton County Emergency Management Services; David Keck, Fulton County Emergency Management deputy; and Salem Fire Chief Heath Everett traveled to ADEM headquarters in Conway May 15 where they were supplied information regarding the grant, Judge Everett said.
Albert Roork, Fulton County Emergency Management coordinator, has been working with Tina Owens, ADEM planning and operations coordinator, on the grant money.
Roork said the money will be used to outfit Salem's HAZMAT team and to purchase equipment. Roork explained the top priorities for items purchased are: personal protection equipment, detection equipment, decontamination equipment and communications equipment. After those needs are met, other items can be purchased if they are on the approved ADEM list.
Roork said the Salem Fire Department currently has 10 firemen certified through ADEM at technician level, which is the highest ranking, and eight ranked at the operations level.
"We took this process seriously, and we are proud that the equipment purchased through these funds will soon be available to protect our first responders and enhance the safety of the citizens of Fulton County and the surrounding areas," said Judge Everett.
The equipment purchased from this funding will help protect lives if a terrorist attack or hazardous materials spill should happen in these locations, Everett said. Another benefit of the funding is the training and exercises these teams will go through with the equipment will help saves lives in any form of emergency, the judge added.
Fulton County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will develop mutual aid agreements with surrounding counties so the equipment purchased will cover as much of the state as possible. Fulton County OEM must also include a terrorism annex to its emergency operations plan. Roork said the terrorism annex is specific on emergency responses, including a terrorism act, earthquake, tornado and other disasters.
More than $7 million has been distributed to 31 Arkansas counties statewide, according to ADEM. The amount distributed to the counties is based on population, a hazard analysis and the amount of equipment available.
Part of the funding was specifically designated for bomb teams. Other funding was designated to enhance equipment for recently formed HAZMAT teams and provide equipment for recently formed decontamination teams. The equipment will enhance the capabilities of the counties to respond to all hazards.
All equipment purchased through the Homeland Security funding will be tracked by ADEM for two years.
The funding is the result of a collaboration of efforts from the Department of Homeland Security, ADEM, The Arkansas Health Department, Fulton County OEM and emergency response officials in the county.