Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stopped in Syracuse Friday, pushing for a bill that would change how first responders communicate.
Sen. Gillibrand stood with Central New York police officers and firefighters to talk about the legislation. It creates a framework for using a nationwide, interoperable, wireless broadband network strictly for public safety. The network would help different emergency response agencies communicate in a major disaster.
The 9/11 Commission Report found one of the problems on the day of the attack was insufficient communication between agencies to coordinate rescue efforts. Firefighters, police officers, and EMS technicians all communicate on different frequencies with different systems, making it difficult for them to talk to each other. Sen. Gillibrand says she's hoping Congress will come together to pass this bill before the 10th anniversary of the attacks this September.
"There is no higher priority than the security of our families and communities," Senator Gillibrand said. "If we're going to keep New Yorkers safe, all of our first responders must be able to communicate with each other in real time during emergencies. Nearly ten years after the horror of 9/11, it's time to bring our first responder technology into the 21st century, and free New York's emergency personnel from federal bureaucracy to get the job done."
First responders are already mandated by the Federal Communications Commission to upgrade communications systems by 2013 to reduce bandwidth. Sen. Gillibrand says the requirement doesn't go far enough, because it doesn't address the problem of communicating with each other.