The Delaware County commissioners on Dec. 20 approved a preliminary application for a $365,000 federal Homeland Security grant that would buy some emergency-response hardware.

The Delaware County commissioners on Dec. 20 approved a preliminary application for a $365,000 federal Homeland Security grant that would buy some emergency-response hardware.

On the shopping list are a flexible radio patching unit to allow mobile emergency responders to link incompatible radio systems, a new communications vehicle and bulletproof vests for emergency medical responders.

"This is a preliminary submission ... to put in for some items through the Urban Area Security Initiative," said Brian Galligher, director of the county office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. "It's a large grant the city of Columbus receives but shares with the 'metropolitan statistical area,' the surrounding counties around Franklin County."

Galligher runs a three-person office that primarily works to prepare emergency planning documents and administer grants provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the state and local agencies that act as conduits for federal funding.

"We do not have weapons or fire trucks (in the county office of Homeland Security)," Galligher said.

He said most of the grants buy items for other departments. "We'll buy for the sheriff, for the fire department. We'll buy things for the coroner's office out of an upcoming grant."

In the event of an emergency, the county office of homeland security acts as a central information clearinghouse.

"If there is a large incident, we open the emergency operations center," Galligher said. "We coordinate the emergency from the operations center, to make sure everything is flowing and we have resources so we know where to get things we need. We keep up (geographical information system) data so we know if something is affected downstream."

The response of the various units occurs according to plans and contact information prepared by Galligher's office.

"We assist in writing the plans that try to get all the different agencies to work together," Galligher said. "If there is a flood, you would have fire (departments) and law (enforcement) out there, the health department, Red Cross. We have contacts for all of them and we are kind of the missing link."

The "Motobridge" component of the grant, which at $175,000 is the largest item, is the radio equipment device that can be used in the field to link otherwise incompatible radio systems.

"We would use it to try patching things that don't normally patch," Galligher said. "Say the National Guard comes up with their own radio systems. This piece of equipment allows us to do that. You can buy cheaper versions of this, but one reason this is so expensive is you can plug in a radio, turn it to the channel you want, plug in another radio and tune it to the channel you want, and it will bridge between the two. It's very user-friendly."

The grant also would pay for a communications vehicle, at $135,000, that provides room for three dispatchers and mobile meeting facilities, and body armor for EMS units at $55,000.

"It's basically a vest," Galligher said.

"If you have a shooting incident and people lying there bleeding, you want EMS to get to those people. If they have body armor it's a safer situation. Traditionally body armor is for law enforcement, but if you saw what happened at Virginia Tech and other places, you want EMS coming in as quickly as they can."