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Grant to provide first responders with new technology

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By Lorrie Kinkade

By LORRIE KINKADE

The Trimble Banner

The Department of Homeland Security, not Santa Claus, is granting wishes from the lists of Trimble County’s emergency responders.

Last month, the county’s emergency management director, Ronnie McCane, received word that a local application for grant money to purchase mobile data terminals had been partially approved. Although the original request for more than $170,000 would have provided 17 of the computers for police, fire departments, EMS and Search and Rescue teams, McCane said the county was blessed to receive enough money to pay for nine of the machines.

“I feel like we were very fortunate to get this $81,000. There was $65.9 million requested from the federal government and only $7.6 million allotted. So for us to get this was great,” he said.

Over the next 12 months, four MDTs will be installed for the sheriff’s office, one each for Milton and Bedford Volunteer Fire Departments, one to the county’s paid EMS and one to Trimble County Search & Rescue.

The four terminals installed in official vehicles used by Sheriff Tim Coons and his deputies will enable the officers to access information previously available only through dispatchers at Kentucky State Police Post 5. From vehicle registrations to drivers license status and arrest warrant data, vital information will now be at their fingertips.

“This is putting the sheriff’s office into the 21st century,” remarked Coons when asked about the new technology.

When it comes to traffic stops, Coons said the computers could improve officer safety, along with shortening the amount of time a driver is delayed.

“When we step out of the car, we can already have information about the vehicle we’re stopping and the registered owner of that vehicle,” he said. “If the registered owner has warrants, we know to proceed with additional caution. We’ll know sooner what we might be dealing with.”

Additionally, Coons said the MDTs will eliminate much of the radio traffic now heard on private scanners, possibly preventing someone from making a phone call to a car about to be stopped and giving the occupants time to dispose of contraband.

“There is so much we can do with these. Any of the special investigative software we use at the office can be downloaded to be used in the field,” he said. “We will also have more access to what KSP is doing. When they have a call in any of the Post 5 area, we will know about it and they will know what we are doing.”

Milton Fire Department Chief Ronnie Barnes said his team will use the single MDT they have been granted to keep track of fire runs, automobile collisions and other incidents they respond to.

“This can be a big tool for us,” he said, pointing to the ability to access maps and run histories while in the field.

McCane said poison control data and mapping technology are just a couple of the ways the MDTs may lead to improvements for EMTs.

“I think law enforcement will probably use these more than anyone else in the county, but every department that has one will benefit from it,” McCane said.