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Governor convenes summit on emergency preparedness
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NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) -- Rhode Island has spent $42 million to improve its emergency response capabilities since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but likely will need to begin footing the tab itself in coming years, according to the state�s National Guard commander.

Maj. Gen. Reginald Centracchio said the money has been used to upgrade communications systems, train community response teams and plan more improvements. Centracchio added most of the money has come from the federal government, but that funding appears to be ending.

�What we build we must sustain� with state money, Centracchio said at a meeting Tuesday of state agency directors and first responders at the Naval War College.

Gov. Don Carcieri convened the summit, spurred in part by an outside consultant�s analysis of the state�s response to The Station nightclub fire in February 2003, and steps agencies have taken to improve its response to any emergency. The fire in West Warwick killed 100 people and injured about 200.

Carcieri said he believes the state is prepared for an emergency, but that there�s always room for improvement. The governor told participants the budget for the state Emergency Management Agency will likely need to be increased next year. He also said money will be needed to operate a $1.4 million mobile command center recently ordered by the state. The vehicle is to serve as a centralized place to receive information and direct orders.

�It�s mostly people� that state will need to pay for, Carcieri said.

Representatives at the summit were from those agencies considered to be involved in an emergency response. They included the Health department, the Corrections department, the state fire marshal�s office, the EMA, National Guard and state and local police.

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