Funds available to help Oklahoma first responders

Today Oklahoma Homeland Security Director Bob A. Ricks announced the first phase of the Oklahoma First Responder Equipment Program. The First Responder Equipment Program is a multi-phased approach to providing equipment, training and other support to first responders in Oklahoma.

It is crucial that our responders be equipped to handle any eventuality. The most efficient way of preparing those responders and thereby protecting our state, is to get equipment out to the teams who will be using it as quickly as possible, Ricks said. The agencies receiving replacements during the first phase of the equipment program will be teams already trained at the level required to utilize the equipment.

During the first phase of the Oklahoma First Responder Equipment Program, the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security will assist local Hazmat and Bomb Squad units replenish expiring or dwindling supplies. Funding for the Oklahoma First Responder Equipment Program is provided to the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security through grant funds received from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Funds will be provided to specially trained response teams in Oklahoma. Jurisdictions employing technician level hazardous materials teams or bomb squads are encouraged to make application. Beginning March 14, agencies from around the state will be able to access applications from the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OKOHS) to purchase the required equipment. Applications can be accessed at the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security website or by calling 405/425-7296.

Subsequent phases of the Oklahoma First Responder Equipment Program will address other equipment and training needs such as the creation of response teams capable of varying levels of response to a weapon of mass destruction or other incidents.

As always, our first and foremost concern is the safety of the public, said Ricks. To that end, our office is continuing to work diligently to provide the best protection possible for Oklahoma's citizens. This is merely the first step of many to achieve the highest level of preparedness for our responders.

For additional information, please contact Melissa McLawhorn Houston by calling 405/850-0161.