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Emergency Phone Calls vs New Furniture and Carpets

Without any open discussion, the Town Board is considering reallocating grant money that was supposed to be used for the Emergency Notification System.

In the event of an emergency, what would help you more?

  • Getting a phone call or email from the town with information about the emergency, or
  • Knowing that the town’s first responders (police, fire, ambulance) had a newly furnished and carpeted room to meet in

 

If you favor the furniture/carpet option, then sit back and relax. There’s nothing you have to do. But, if you’d prefer to know where you might be able to get dry ice, whether there’s an emergency shelter, which roads are closed, or whether other parts of town have electricity, then you might want to call or write to Supervisor Michael Grace and other members of the Town Board. (For a listing of their phone numbers and email addresses, visit the town’s web site).

Here’s why Town Board members need to hear from you.

The only way the Town’s new Emergency Notification System can come close to being able to communicate with most residents during an emergency is to supplement the system’s current limited database of 4,500 phone numbers.

The only way it can do that is by purchasing Verizon’s proprietary 911 phone list that has 19,000 land line listings for Yorktown. The money to pay for the list would come from the remaining funds in the $20,000 grant the Town received last year to set up the Emergency Notification System, so there won’t be any cost to the taxpayers.

If your phone number is one of the 4,500 numbers in the current database, then you probably received several messages during the October Halloween storm about the emergency shelter and the fact that there was electricity west of the Taconic Parkway. You may also have received phone calls or emails from the Water Department if your neighborhood has experienced a water main break.

The problem today is that Supervisor Grace has not signed the contract with Verizon, despite the fact that the previous Town Board voted unanimously to purchase the list. 

Instead, it appears that Supervisor Grace and other members of the new Town Board, without any public discussion, want to use the remaining grant money for another purpose, a purpose not included in the original grant request.

They want to use the money to furnish a room in the basement of the courthouse where the town’s first responders can meet during an emergency to coordinate their efforts. In recent years, when the group has needed to meet (it never met during the October storm), it has used the large classroom in the Police Department that is already equipped with phone and Internet access and an emergency generator. These meetings did not interfere with the regular operations of the Police Department.

Why the first responders need a new room, dedicated exclusively for that one occasional use, has yet to be explained to the community.

So if you want to get that emergency phone call or email, then make your phone call today and tell your elected representatives that the grant money should be spent for its intended purpose – setting up a comprehensive Emergency Notification System.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jeanne Gilholm February 13, 2012 at 01:01 PM
It sounds like the usual "politician" shenanigan. Doesn't it? Well, we had it good for a while. Now we'll be like Yonkers.
Alex February 13, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Where to begin... The Police station has NEVER been used as an emergency operations center in the event of a town wide emergency, and it was never set up to be. The intended use of the basement would centrally locate the Police Chief, Fire Chiefs of both Yorktown and Mohegan, and the Captains of both YVAC and MVAC or each agency's appointed representative, along with the highway department supervisor, utilities company and any other department official needed during the crisis. Face to face communications between the appointed reps from each department would allow a more streamlined operation to occur. Each department would instantly know what roads are closed, which agency is responding to where and to what, which areas of town are currently without utilities etc etc. Doing this from an agency neutral location, should be the central focus for information during an emergency (not the police or fire station where the first responders are already inundated with emergency operations and constant distractions) which would keep the Town Supervisor in the loop as to what is going on, and alleviate them from having to run around handing out dry ice themselves.... The leaders of an incident should not be directly involved in the actual hands on operations, rather delegate each task to operational leaders; it is impossible to be an effective leader when you're directly working on a single task at one time and micromanaging an incident. Leaders focus on the big picture.
Alex February 13, 2012 at 04:49 PM
What happened to the grant money that Yorktown received from Entergy regarding the EOC under your watch?
Alex February 13, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Landline numbers should already be on file with the 911 PSAP at Yorktown police. Why pay a company to hand over the information we already have? And finally, what good is an expensive notification system, when you can't even get the information out? Take the October snow storm for example. Most of the town was without power, cable, cell service and internet access for days. What good is a land line phone call going to do if it can;t even reach them? I know personally that it took the messages almost 3 days to reach my cell phone. They're going receive the information once all their power comes back on, not when it was intended to reach them. Also, if people didn't sign up for the notification system, it's more then likely because they didn't want to, or care enough to sign up in the first place. Shouldn't the money go towards something that would allow a more streamlined operation, rather then notifying residents of delays in their service, who can't do anything other then wait for those who can fix the problem, fix it? I understand people's total frustration of not having power, heat, and accommodations that we've all grown so accustomed to. But in order to become more efficient and provide a better service to our customers, the tax payer, we need the tools to do so. This room (which all is being asked of is a few chairs and a table) would benefit the end user much more in the long run, even though it is not a tangible item to the user, such as a phone call.
Martin February 14, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Of all the people to complain about the emergency planning and preparedness that Supervisor Grace is instituting – the fact that Seigel continues here complaining is the height of hypocrisy. During her term in office we experienced two major emergencies. In both cases, there was no central voice, no prepared government arm. Instead we had volunteers, doing the best they could with what they had while the supervisor sat in her office. Three cheers to the town for finally tackling this worthy project and giving our police, fire, EMS and highway people the support they need. This is why Seigel is no longer in office – because she complains but does not perform, because she micro-manages instead of motivates, because she whines instead of being constructive. The change is already noticeable in this town and it is for the better!
Martin February 14, 2012 at 03:40 AM
“What happened to the grant money that Yorktown received from Entergy regarding the EOC under your watch?” Alex the answer to this is very easy, the former supervisor ordered the Chief of Police to return the money! Step over the dollar to save the dime was the MO for two years. “Town Supervisor in the loop as to what is going on, and alleviate them from having to run around handing out dry ice themselves....” When was the last time you turned the news on and seen Mayor Bloomberg handing out dry ice. Oh by the way the so called free dry ice was not free to the taxpayers! Alex thank you for explaining what an EOC is and how it works.

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