More than $400,000 in state grants meant to improve emergency response county wide was given the green light by Hays County leaders last month.
On Oct. 30, county commissioners accepted four grants totaling $417,477 for the Hays County Office of Emergency Services, Hays County Command Vehicle, resources for the Hays County HazMat Team and technology for the Hays County SWAT Team.
Hays County Office of Emergency Services is one of three offices to serve the region alongside Williamson and Travis counties.
“(These grants) are imperative,” said Kharley Smith, Hays County emergency services director. “I’m thankful our elected officials allow us to serve other areas. We have a lot of grant applications currently pending and we got official word this morning about $150,000 to expand on our flood warning system.”
According to grant documents, $200,000 will pay for a command vehicle to be deployed during emergency situations, which will allow for better communication and coordination.
The vehicle will be used by county officials during floods, dangerous storms and other emergency situations. The grant period ends in 2020.
Smith said the grant was needed as equipment was getting old. The grant for SWAT was approved previously and split across 2018 and 2019.
The SWAT grant calls for $122,477.80 in night-vision technology. The Hays County HazMat Team is receiving $75,000 to update air packs, air tanks for the team to wear to prevent contact with potentially hazardous chemicals.
Many of the emergency services teams are operated mostly or solely through grants and the office is awaiting word on multiple grants. The teams address issues ranging from overturned cars, to calls about suspicious packages and weird smells.
According to Smith, the biggest effect of these grants will be on the command center and will be accessible to emergency teams and police departments to better serve the area.