REISTERSTOWN – Six new regional emergency response teams will be in place within the next month, Gov. Parris N. Glendening announced Thursday, saying it will take $128 million to fully outfit the state for the war against terrorism.
Speaking at the Camp Fretterd headquarters of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, Glendening said there will be one team for each of six regions: Western Maryland, Eastern Shore, Southern Maryland, Baltimore, the Washington suburbs and statewide.
Each team, under MEMA’s direction, will have seven members ranging from scientists to public safety experts and will be the second, behind local authorities, to respond to emergencies in the state. They will have authority on the incident site to deploy state resources as needed.
The teams, which will include a group leader, engineer, medical specialist, chemical expert, logistics expert, a public safety representative and a public information officer, will be fully trained and ready for deployment in 30 days, Glendening said. It’s not clear whether team members will come from other law enforcement and rescue teams.
The $128 million Glendening said the state will spend is needed for what he called terrorism preparedness and economic stimulus. The list of urgent needs will be passed on to Congress and the Bush administration.
More than $108 million of the total would pay for 13 pages of county “wish lists.”
Those lists include State Police helicopters and bomb robots, community health surveillance and better scanning equipment for ships, rerouting traffic at Baltimore/Washington International Airport and erecting vehicle barriers around Baltimore’s World Trade Center.
The state’s health care system would get $13 million; $7 million for technology infrastructure; $29 million for aviation security; $9 million for port safety; $18 million for mass transit; $14 million for highway safety and $13 million for bridge and tunnel safety.
“It’s quite expensive,” Glendening acknowledged. “It’s going to be tough enough for the state government (to pay for it).”
The state is already in a significant financial bind since terrorists attacked the Pentagon and New York World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
Cost containment measures ordered by Glendening Oct. 17, would cut $205 million from the state’s budget to help cover soaring security costs and plunging revenues stemming from the attacks.
A hiring freeze, a 1.5 percent cut from all agency budgets and the deferral of $65 million in capital projects made up the governor’s first fiscal response to a declining economy.
Emergency funds will be a combination of federal, state and local money, Glendening said.
Legislation will be introduced in January to fund most of this, and Glendening also hopes to get a large amount of money from an aid package working its way through Congress.
– 30- CNS-11-01-01