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Orange County

$10.4 Million From U.S. Aids Terror Preparedness

August 04, 2004|Sara Lin | Times Staff Writer

Thanks to a $10.4-million homeland security grant, officials said Tuesday, Orange County law enforcement and public safety agencies will be better equipped to handle terrorist threats.

The grant, generated by the federal Department of Homeland Security and administered by the state's Office of Domestic Preparedness, is intended to help more than 35 public safety and health agencies coordinate their terror-response capabilities. The money will help pay for training and equipment for first responders and specialty units.

"It's incredible how much it will help us be prepared," said Orange County sheriff's Capt. Catherine Zurn, who helped write the grant application. "Most of the [public safety] agencies, with the way their budgets are and the economy, they're [outfitting] people in the field, but they don't have extra money to prepare people [for terrorist threats] for this without these grants."

The money will be divided among city and county law enforcement, fire and health agencies, and will supplement equipment and training made possible by a similar $9.5-million grant awarded in 2003.

For example, $1.6 million will pay for equipment and training for chemical and biological threats. The county Health Care Agency will get $1.6 million to prepare for bioterrorism, and $400,000 will go to the sheriff's bomb squad.

The grant also enables authorities to assess the vulnerability of critical infrastructure.

"Anything you'd think of as vulnerable probably is," Zurn said. "We're hoping to be able to prevent anything from happening in Orange County."

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