County continues to vaccinate EMS, first responders

JOHNSTOWN — A Fulton County official estimated about 60-70 percent of first responders and EMS personnel in the county have received COVID-19 vaccinations.

County Emergency Management Director Steven Santa Maria was asked at a recent Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee for a “ballpark” figure on how many first responders such as police, fire and ambulance staff have been vaccinated.

Santa Maria said it was probably in the “range” of 60 to 70 percent.

“A lot of people are still a little hesitant about the shots,” Santa Maria said.

He said his office continues to assist the Public Health Department with COVID-19 response and vaccination PODS.

“That’s been going very well,” he said.

He said he knows the vaccines aren’t coming in as fast as people want, and there are holdups on the state level.

Personnel are being supplied for the PODS, and his office is helping track essential employees that need vaccinations.

Santa Maria said PPE, or personal protective equipment, continues to be distributed as needed.

He said he was due to have a conference call with FEMA, and $71,000 in reimbursement for COVID costs from 2020 may be coming to Fulton County.

Other than COVID, Santa Maria said the county continues to work on an All Hazard Mitigation Plan that is “a few years behind.”

He said the hope is to finish a draft plan, which goes to a public hearing and eventually to county legislators for adoption. He said he hopes it will be adopted within the next 45-60 days.

“It’s a pretty good project,” Santa Maria said.

He said the All Hazard Mitigation Plan will assist individual municipalities within the county, and will be excellent as an online tool. He said Fulton County was one of six counties chosen to do the plan as a pilot project.

In the area of communications, Santa Maria noted the county’s long-awaited simulcast project was completed and is paying dividends. He said countywide radio reprogramming is underway and there have only been a few “problem areas.”

“The simulcast project has made a tremendous impact in communications throughout the county,” Santa Maria said. “t’s really made a huge difference.”

He said Fulton County has to reprogram 1,000 radios and he is working with Pittsfield Communications.

There was a problem in the village of Northville, but a temporary fix was done with equipment coming in, he said. Also the city of Gloversville’s police frequency had to be upgraded.

Santa Maria reported the Fulton County Emergency Management App was upgraded, and he encourages the public to download it. He said there is good information provided.

He also noted that his office relies on grant funding for equipment and operations. But he said there is much uncertainty about 2021. He said he didn’t include grand funding in his 2021 budget or schedule any major projects because of that.

“We’re getting mixed messages,” Santa Maria said. “Everything is kind of on hold right now.”

By Paul Wager