Better prepared in the event of disaster
A recent spate of funding announcements continued in Florida on June 6, as Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed that $10 million will be directed to bolstering the state's 8 urban search and rescue teams.
In a press release from the governor's office, it was confirmed that the money will be used to fund operations and training exercises to ensure that the teams are fully prepared in the event of being needed. It will also be used to maintain and buy additional equipment for use in the event of disasters.
These teams have proven their worth time and again, in responding after seasonal hurricanes and also in one-off tragedies such as the Surfside condo collapse last year.
The governor briefed press, and shared the announcement to Twitter:
The provision of adequate funding for the rescue teams is seen as a necessary insurance against the need for their services in times of crisis, and the governor was keen to point out that these costs have had to be funded by the state rather than relying on federal funding.
Commenting on the announcement, Governor DeSantis had this to say:
“Our world-class Urban Search and Rescue Teams serve an important role in assisting state and local first responders during disasters. I am proud to be able to provide record state funding to Florida’s eight USAR teams which will better prepare Florida for the next disaster.”
Funds were allocated to this purpose in Florida's so-called 'Freedom First' budget which the governor signed last week. It's just another budget line-item that demonstrates the state's commitment to meeting the needs of first responders.
Earlier this year it was confirmed that first responders would receive a $1,000 bonus for the second year in a row - something that will no doubt be appreciated as the current cost of living spirals ever-upwards right now.
Meanwhile, Floridians are being encouraged to take advantage of a sales tax holiday on goods related to disaster preparedness. The sales tax holiday was one of a number announced by the governor this year, although many may be struggling to find the money to be prepared for such emergencies as it is.
Florida stands on its own
Some might argue that Florida should be making its own provision for such search and rescue teams given that the annual hurricane season is part of what brings about the demand for their services.
But it's clear that federal funds can't be relied upon in any case. Earlier this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied an application from Florida to provide money to help with the clean-up after tornadoes struck in Florida.
It seems positive then that to make a provision for these vital teams is high on Governor DeSantis' agenda. Here's hoping the teams aren't called upon too soon, and that there aren't too many disasters this year.
Do you think adequate funding is given to first responders or could the governor do more? Have you had to rely on the services of urban search and rescue teams? Let me know in the comments section below.