State issues grants for emergency services dispatching

Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Erie Counties were among the counties in the state that were awarded funds to support emergency response operations.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced $10 million in grants awarded to localities across the state to support emergency response operations. These 2018-2019 grant funds will allow municipalities in 57 counties and New York City to make improvements to their 911 response and emergency service dispatch operations. The funding is administered by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services through the Public Safety Answering Points Operations Grant.

“It is critical that first responders have access to the services and technology they need to respond to situations where every second counts,” Governor Cuomo said. “These grants will allow counties to continue to upgrade and improve their emergency communications and ensure that New Yorkers are getting the fastest, safest response in their moment of need.”

“Emergency response services ensure the safety and well-being of residents,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “This funding will help municipalities upgrade their 911 response and dispatch operations to increase public safety and enhance overall quality of life. We’re making sure that municipalities have the technology they need to improve emergency communications and operate efficiently.”

Public safety facilities, known as Public Safety Answering Points, receive incoming calls for help and initiate dispatching of emergency services. Throughout the state, counties provide the majority of 911 answering and dispatching operations, and coordinate the services among municipal, county, and state responders. The annual PSAPs grant allows for state reimbursement to counties for eligible public safety call-taking and dispatching expenses. All counties and the New York City are eligible to apply to receive grant funds, and all chose to participate in the program this year.

These funds not only help county operators offset their day-to-day expenses, but can also foster upgrades in call-taking and dispatching technology and investing in new services such as text messaging, data communication, and improved geo-location for emergency response. Since the program’s inception in 2010, counties have applied the funding to upgrades, including implementing text-to-911 services. Today, 48 percent of all statewide counties offer text-to-911 services, up from 40 percent last year.

“These funds play an important role in helping counties to fund public safety communications initiatives including implementing next-generation 911 services such as text-to-911,” said Roger L. Parrino, Sr., Commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “Our Office of Interoperable Emergency Communications will continue to work with counties to advise them on how to implement upgrades that meet national and state standards and answer related questions.”

This grant is a non-competitive, formula-based grant. Monies are distributed among participating counties based on statistics reflective of a county’s operational scope, demographic factors, and emergency services call metrics. By participating in the program, counties affirm their adherence with state and national guidelines for emergency communications.

Erie County was awarded $209,229, Cattaraugus County was awarded $191,310, and Chautauqua County was awarded $174,353.