Elmira- Chemung County is the latest county in the state to sound the alarm directing attention to a widely held concern that the state’s emergency 9-1-1- call centers need more dedicated resources to address increasing call volumes and aging systems.
The effort, called 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.
Chemung County Executive, Tom Santulli, has appeared in a one-minute video stressing the importance of the Rescuing 9-1-1 campaign.
“Chemung County has been proactive about public safety, having recently concluded a four-year project to upgrade our 9-1-1 systems to a digital high-band network,” said Santulli. “The upgrades included six new communication towers and updating three existing ones. This $8.4 million investment in public safety will improve our fire and emergency medical response. Yet, more needs to be done.
“The federal government will soon be requiring states and localities to adopt new Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) standards,” Santulli continued. “Equipment and technology costs associated with technological upgrades needed to comply with the NG911 standards are expected to approach $2.2 billion over the next 10 years.”
In the 1960s 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.
“Unless and until counties have access to a dedicated revenue stream to help pay for these public safety 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 phones, we need to upgrade our systems.”
A twitter handle - @Rescuing911 - and a YouTube Channel have been created to allow the public to engage in the effort and learn more about how to participate in the campaign. To learn more about the initiative, visit: http://www.nysac.org/rescuing911.