New generator adds safety measures
Improvements to emergency services are being made on the Alamo Navajo Reservation that will now allow for better communications in the event of a power outage.
Executive Director of the Alamo Navajo School Board Michael Hawkes said he and Socorro County Fire Marshal Fred Hollis applied for the emergency management funds grant which allowed the sovereign nation to purchase a back-up generator and propane tank that will fill in the gaps in communications should the electricity go out.
“Our radio station is our only emergency communication,” Hawkes explained. “In storms, we’d lose power and couldn’t communicate.”
That won’t be a factor now, and Hawkes said they will be able to inform the community and surrounding areas where they can take shelter should an emergency arise, as well as communicate which roads may be washed out, due to heavy storms, or any other disaster such as a chemical spill.
“We’ve had several roads washed out and people stranded,” Hawkes said of past storms that have hit the reservation. “Now we can use the radio station as an emergency broadcast alert.”
About $34,000 of the $150,000 grant, which was awarded in May, was used to purchase and install the new generator and propane tank, Hawkes said, with the rest of the funding going to Socorro County emergency services.
The radio station, which provides entertainment, public announcements, music and covers the ongoing issues in the community, will now provide another important function to the safety and welfare of the residents.
Hawkes said the system is tested regularly and although this year they haven’t had near the amount of severe weather that they’ve seen in the past, they are prepared should an emergency occur.
“Whatever comes up — biological, chemical or natural disasters — we’re ready,” Hawkes said of relaying vital information.
Another important safety improvement that should be completed by mid-January is the installation of a second generator at the reservation’s medical clinic. Hawkes said they were awarded a $120,000 Indian Health Services grant that was used to purchase the necessary equipment that will supply power to the clinic should the electricity go out.
The clinic, which offers services in podiatry, optometry, dentistry, behavioral health, emergency medical services and psychological services will not have to worry about trying to provide care in the dark should an outage happen.
“I would say these are some significant things that took place this year,” Hawkes said. “It adds to the safety and security and helps with the quality of life issues.”
Contact Jackie Schlotfeldt