Improved communications has been one of the major changes in Gloucester and Mathews counties since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, emergency coordinators in both counties said.
In Gloucester, a new communications system is in use, said Garrey Curry, interim emergency management coordinator. A new Emergency Operations Center is under construction in the village and should be ready for the high-tech communications equipment—now temporarily housed nearby—to be moved in next summer.
The new system provides better interoperability, Curry said, and keeps law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel in the field in much better touch with the dispatch center and with each other. This system ties Gloucester to several Peninsula localities and provides good back-up in case a locality’s regular emergency communications is lost.
Curry and Marty Schlesinger, Gloucester’s public utilities director, both said that improvements to security have been made to the county’s water treatment plant, but they declined to specify what measures have been taken. Meanwhile, Curry said the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office now has a mobile command center complete with emergency communications equipment for use during natural and man-made disasters.
In Mathews, Dave Burns, emergency services coordinator, said a big change in recent years has been installation of the "Code Red" emergency alert system to provide instant communications with residents in times of an emergency. The system was used to get out several messages during Hurricane Irene recently, and has been used on other occasions.