Cochise County officials approved a plan that will repurpose COVID-19 relief funds to upgrade its emergency response system.
“Sierra Vista Fire and Medical Services and Fry Fire District proposed the Fire Station Alerting System project,” according to reports. “Plans include software installation and technology upgrades for all Cochise County fire stations and special districts to increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of dispatch centers.”
The county’s Board of Supervisors approved the plan earlier this week.
The money – $2,240,000 – will be redirected from federal funding received via the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that was supposed to be used to help states and locales recover from the economic impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and other restrictive measures.
The legislation is one of the flagship accomplishments of President Joe Biden’s administration.
“We’re both professionally and emotionally tied to this project as it affects each and every one of the citizens we encounter on the ground level,” Fry Fire District Battalion Chief Billy Seamans reportedly said of the project. “Thanks to everyone that’s been involved and to the community that’s been a supporter of this initiative. We are excited to implement the project and are grateful for the first day it goes live and that we’ll be there faster and more appropriate for the citizens of Cochise County.”
The project is expected to increase emergency response times by 30 to 80 seconds.
Left-wing groups have made it clear that funding from the massive taxpayer-funded stimulus will be spent on projects unrelated to the intended COVID-19 recovery.
One of those groups is the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“The American Rescue Plan is not only an extraordinary federal policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its severe attendant hardships, but also a historic opportunity to begin undoing longstanding racial and economic inequities that the pandemic exposed and worsened. States, localities, U.S. territories, and tribal governments will play a central role in realizing this opportunity,” that group said.
“How they choose to spend the Fiscal Recovery Funds — and what complementary policies they put in place for the long term — will make a crucial difference in limiting pandemic-induced hardships, which have been concentrated in Black, Indigenous, and Latinx and other communities of color, and in building a more equitable recovery and communities.”
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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ambulance” by REEET JANK.