ADVOCATES CALL FOR DEDICATED RESOURCES FOR 9-1-1 TECHNOLOGY UPGRADES
October 11, 2016 518.465.1473
A statewide coalition of advocates comprised of county leaders, emergency planners, and first responders assembled in Albany today to raise the profile of a widely held concern that New York's
9-1-1 emergency communication call centers need more dedicated resources to address escalating call volumes with aging systems.
The effort called Rescuing 911, was publicized at the Albany Marriott where members of the Atlantic Chapter of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials and New York State's 9-1-1 Coordinators Association gathered for sessions on the use of enhanced emergency communications systems, including Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) technologies.
Rescuing 911 has the backing and support of a wide range of local officials including county executives, sheriffs, legislators, supervisors, 9-1-1 coordinators, firefighters, emergency managers, and other first responders.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, a member of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) Standing Committee on Public Safety, shares his perspective on this important initiative: “Our 9-1-1 emergency systems have come a long way in 50 years, and Next Generation technologies will allow us to better pinpoint the location of a caller and the emergency as well as translate text messages, which will help keep all New Yorker's safer.”
Sheriff Apple coordinates a system serving all of Albany County that responds to 49 fire departments, 22 EMS squads, and 15 local and state law enforcement departments.
“Having a reliable and consistent state funding stream for investing in 9-1-1- services is critical for Albany County and for every other county that provides emergency dispatch services for New Yorkers,” Apple continued.
John Merklinger, director of the City of Rochester 9-1-1 call center, said: “Last year, millions of New Yorkers instinctively dialed 9-1-1 when faced with a fire, accident or emergency. Increasingly, those calls are coming on mobile devices – everyone in the community from senior citizens on the board walk to young people on a school bus. These are the most difficult and important calls to trace.”
Merklinger coordinates a system serving all of Monroe County that responds to 46 fire departments, 32 EMS squads, and 16 police departments.
The federal government has recognized the need to adapt these new technologies and they are requiring states and localities to adopt NG911 standards. Equipment and technology costs associated with New York's NG911 services are expected to approach $2.2 billion over the next 10 years.
“Unless and until counties have access to a dedicated revenue stream to help pay for the system upgrades and new communications equipment, NG911 will be out of reach for many areas of the state. That's what this campaign is all about,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “In order to meet the expectations of the millions of New Yorkers who are calling and texting 9-1-1 from their cell phone, we need to upgrade our systems.”
In the 1960's emergency phone calls came through dedicated phone lines into the homes, and workers would then notify the fire department. As these emergency call services were consolidated under 9-1-1, the function was taken over by the state police. Today, most of the state's 9-1-1 emergency communication systems are operated and funded at the county level. However in the absence of additional resources many counties will be unable to finance public safety upgrades and equipment without a more dedicated revenue stream.
In the Capital Region, Rensselaer County, which spans from the east side of the Hudson River to the Massachusetts boarder, County Executive Kathleen Jimino has been a vocal advocate for Rescuing911 – and has appeared in a one-minute video outlining the campaign.
“Rescuing 911 grew out of a grass roots discussion driven by a fundamental concern about public safety,” said NYSAC President William E. Cherry, the Schoharie County Treasurer. “In every corner of the state, from rural and remote communities to our inner cities we must be prepared to answer the call.”
A Twitter handle – @Rescuing911— and a YouTube Channel have been created to allow the public to engage in the effort. To learn more about the initiative, visit: https://www.nysac.org/rescuing911 .
The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York State. Organized in 1925, NYSAC's mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties. www.nysac.org