SLO County’s security gets $630,420 boost

The county should be better able to map streets for emergencies, prepare for wildfires, clean up hazardous materials spills and handle other public safety situations, thanks to a $630,420 Homeland Security grant the Board of Supervisors has formally accepted.

The county’s Office of Emergency Services will distribute the money to county and city agencies according to priorities established by a committee that included city and county law enforcement, fire and public health officials.

Some of the money will go toward anti-terror training and planning activities. The grant will also fund such high-tech gizmos as ballistic shields, which will cost $16,000, a ballistic blanket at $39,000, two under-door cameras at $25,000 and two “remote control robot(s) with video capability allowing teams to see areas without being there.” The latter item costs $21,000.

Ron Alsop of the Emergency Services Department said the money flows from the federal government to the state then to counties, which buy the equipment and seek reimbursement. Various jurisdictions compete for the funds, and Alsop praised the agencies within San Luis Obispo County for working together smoothly.

The county applied for the grant July 14, and Alsop says he expects most of the equipment to be in use early next year.

The county already has bought one item: an $85,000 “thermocycler,” which the Public Health Department uses to diagnose various strains of illness, including testing for the H1N1 flu.

Among the other uses of the Homeland Security money: