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Push For Better Emergency Communication

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New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wants Congress to act on recommendations from the 9/11 Commission for improving the communications systems used by emergency responders nationwide.

It has been more than seven years since the 9/11 Commission identified a major flaw in emergency operations on the day of the terrorist attacks. The inability of emergency agencies to communicate on that day was a potentially deadly failure that Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says could have been avoided.

Now, the junior Senator is introducing the Public Safety Spectrum and Wireless Innovation Act to create a national broadband network that would allow responders from across the country to share information in the event of a major disaster.

"It’s time to bring our first responder technology into the 21st century,” said Gillibrand in a telephone conference. “Right now, any teenager with a Smartphone can share more information than our emergency responders can.”

The network Gillibrand is calling for will allow for vastly improved data-sharing capabilities, allowing emergency responders to communicate seamlessly. For example, firefighters could access floor plans before entering burning buildings and EMT’s would be able to send pictures from an accident scene to doctors in the emergency room.

President Obama identified this initiative as a priority in this year’s State of the Union address, calling for the development and deployment of a nationwide wireless broadband network that would make public safety agencies far more effective.

WFUV's John Rogan contributed to this story.