New York State to overhaul emergency response system

Above: Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jerome Hauer speaking at a New York State Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, Feb. 22. Photo posted to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Flickr account.

There's a new sheriff in town: Jerome Hauer, the new head of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. And under his watch, the state's emergency response system is about to get a massive overhaul.

Hauer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a series of major changes to the statewide emergency response system on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

The state will establish five "Regional Disaster Logistics Centers" -- in the North Country, Western New York, Hudson Valley, Southern Tier, and Long Island -- that will store emergency equipment and supplies, mobilize regional teams of first responders in emergencies, and help local governments respond to disasters.

The state is also rolling out a new statewide credentialing system for all first responders.

A state conference on emergency response will be held sometime this summer. (Locally, there's another conference coming up on disaster preparedness: On March 22, the Catskill Watershed Corporation in Margaretville will host a day-long session featuring local first responders and officials talking about the lessons learned during Irene.)

A press release issued by Cuomo's office states that the Irene and Lee floods exposed some serious flaws in the state's existing system:

While New York's first responders showed tremendous leadership and ability, the review found shortcomings in the state's coordination and preparation, including assets not being aligned with needs, a lack of resources pre-deployed to regions in the storms' paths, and response units with outdated equipment in place.

Outdated equipment? You don't say. The Albany news program Capital Tonight tweeted from a presentation given by Hauer on Wednesday:

Some of that outdated equipment is slated to end up on eBay, where the state is setting up a store to sell unneeded equipment, including over 500 cars. From another press release issued Wednesday:

NYSStore will offer a spectrum of surplus state goods including office supplies, computers, cell phones, furniture, medical equipment, cameras, generators, tools, and other supplies that are no longer needed by the state. The sale will begin in early April with inventories updated regularly.

Online auction addicts, be forewarned.