Last Friday morning, August 21, I met with Macon County Mayor Steve Jones and EMA Director Keith Scruggs to discuss the Emergency Services Digital Radio System being installed, which is the last project of the $3,058,970 disaster recovery grant we received following the 2008 tornado and 2010 flood.
“We were awarded this $3,058,970 disaster grant after we became eligibile following the 2008 tornado and the 2010 flood,” said Mayor Jones, who was the 911 Director at the time of both disasters. “There were 18 counties altogether that were eligible and Macon County applied with needs for the emergency services, which were acceptable under the grant.”
“We laid out alot of things the Macon County emergency agencies could use and it was accepted,” continued Mayor Jones. “During the disaster time, all rescue squads weren’t able to get around and they had to use private 4 wheelers and now every squad has an ATV and a trailer to carry it on. The Lafayette Fire Department received a new 3,000 gallon tanker truck and we now have swift water equipment and several men have received training. We put 14 emergency warning sirens around the county, for outdoor tornadoes, West Macon Rescue Squad got a new rescue truck, and the staging area and morgue was built behind the Justice Center. Then we built three 280 foot communication towers last year, and this is where the new emergency services digitial radio system in being installed. This equipment bid out for $450,000 and this will finish up the balance of the recovery grant.”
Mayor Jones said every emergency agency, all fire departments, the ambulance service, sheriffs department, both police departments and the rescue squads all will have new radio recruiters. “This new digital radio system will give all departments much more range and good crisp, clear communications,” said Mayor Jones.
EMA Director Keith Scruggs added, “We never expected anything that catastrophic to happen in Macon County. Over the years we had flooding and severe thunderstorms, but the night of February 5, 2008, changed our lives forever. Not only the residences and the community, but the emergency services had to take a look to see what we could do to adjust and be more prepared for these major events. There has been 7.2 million dollars in grant money all together poured into Macon County for emergency services alone since the tornado and the flood.”
Director Scruggs said at that time County Mayor Jones was the 911 Director and he spent tireless hours trying to think on this end what we could do to enhance our communications in Macon County. “One of the things that we’ve done is spent $450,000 just on radio eqiupment alone that is being installed as we speak, which will provide much clearer communications and better range.”
“We now have swift water rescue equipment, a new ladder truck, and a tanker,” continued Director Scruggs, “and we’ve put 14 emergency sirens around the county, we spent half a million dollars on the staging area/morgue and we also have a new 911 building and a room that can be used as a command center should the need arise. I feel like we have done alot more in Macon County, than in the bigger counties, to be prepared for these kind of events.”
“We are continuing to build on our abililty to handle these catastrophic events and if Mother Nature wrecks havoc on us again, we will be ready for her. Preparation is the key to anything. Having the equipment is the first step in being prepared and these grants have allowed us to get it.”