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Monroe County EMA looking to complete 911 upgrades

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Monroe County Commissioners Bill Bolon and Diane Burkhart, from left, stand with Lisa Ward, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board for Belmont, Harrison and Monroe Counties, and Commissioner Mick Schumacher after recognizing first responders who aid in the opioid epidemic.

WOODSFIELD — The Monroe County Emergency Management Agency is hoping to secure $257,000 in funding to complete a series of upgrades to its 911 services.

Phil Keevert, director of the county EMA , met with Commissioners Mick Schumacher, Diane Burkhart and Bill Bolon on Monday morning to discuss the agency’s two-year plan for the upgrade project. He said they plan to purchase three new CAD PCs, radio consoles and cruiser laptops to replace outdated models.

“We originally started out with a total project estimate of $340,000. We’ve done a little bit more shopping and investigating what type of equipment we use, and in two years, we’ve bumped it down to $257,000,” he said.

Keevert said the CAD PCs and radio consoles need to be replaced this year as they are at the “end of life for service.” He said the cruisers’ current laptops were refurbished when they purchased them in 2016, and can no longer be updated. The planned laptop replacements will have more functions and a car camera system for each cruiser.

Keevert said they are in need of the funding to make the necessary purchases. Schumacher suggested possibly using some of the county’s American Rescue Plan funds for the project; however, they must ensure the upgrades fit into the funding guidelines prior to earmarking the money. The county received more than $2.6 million in ARP funding, which is meant to offset lost revenue and aid with infrastructure improvement projects.

Schumacher said they would look into it to see if it’s a possibility.

In other matters, commissioners heard from Lisa Ward, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Board for Belmont, Harrison and Monroe Counties, who spoke about the importance of frontline workers in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Each year, the board recognizes local first responders for their work with a week of appreciation, which is set for Sept. 20-26, Ward said.

“Last year we were limited due to COVID, but this year we are going to be doing a little bit more,” she said.

Ward said they will offer a free in-person and virtual suicide prevention training course called Question, Persuade, Respond. The training is free for any first responder who is interested in participating. She said they have also made and will distribute calendars and water bottles to local fire departments.

“We are really trying to show that oftentimes they are there before any of the mental health professionals are, and with that sometimes overdoses are hard on them as what they’re doing dealing with secondary trauma. … We try to get the word out that we appreciate what you do, and we’re here to support you as well, and we’re trying to bring some knowledge to them that this is out there,” she said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on people emotionally over the past year, she said.

“I think, especially last year with COVID, people being secluded, lack of access to treatment and being depressed and overwhelmed with the state of what was happening. I think it had a huge impact on our families, children and individuals,” she said. “… We’ll keep working to get the word out and try to get people connected with the resources so they don’t have to go through that alone.”

Commissioners read and signed a proclamation recognizing next week as Appreciation for Front Line Workers. The QPR training will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. Sept. 20; 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sept. 21; and 3-4:30 p.m. Sept. 24 via bhmboard.org.

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