Assemblyman Bob Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) has announced the award of grants totaling over $12 million to help Suffolk and Nassau counties improve their 911 emergency dispatch capabilities.
The grants, $5,231,487.00 for Suffolk and $6,795,620.00 for Nassau, were awarded by the State 911 Board as part of the $100 million Expedited Deployment Program enacted last year by the State Legislature, following a successful override of the Governorís veto.
The State funds are intended to spur the development of enhanced wireless 911 service by assisting localities with equipment purchases. Enhanced wireless 911 service refers to the ability of emergency dispatchers to automatically pinpoint the location and call-back number of wireless callers, as can now be done for land-line calls.
Sweeney, Chairman of the Assemblyís Local Government Committee and a member of the New York State 911 Board which approved funding, said that "many people buy cell phones to use in case of an emergency. What they donít know is that right now in New York State if they canít tell us precisely where they are, we may not have the capability to find them. These new funds will help localities expedite life-saving improvements to our local 911 systems Ė enabling local emergency dispatch centers to pinpoint emergency calls and call-back numbers from wireless phones."
The need for this technology was tragically illustrated on January 24, 2003, when four teenage boys died after their boat sank in the Long Island Sound. One of the boys dialed 911 on his cell phone, but was unable to describe his location to potential rescuers.
Assemblyman Thomas P. DiNapoli (D-Great Neck) said, "New York lags far behind other states in implementing enhanced 911. Our residents deserve better. I am hopeful that this program will go a long way toward helping to purchase, improve and upgrade the equipment that emergency service workers need to provide this life-saving service."
"New Yorkers must have the security of knowing that, in case of emergency, their cell phone calls to 911 will be handled quickly and effectively and they can be located by authorities," said Sweeney. "State residents have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in cell phone surcharges to support 911 Statewide. It is past time for New Yorkers to get what they have paid for."
Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-Setauket) said, "This E-911 funding is a huge step toward providing New Yorkers with the kind of service they have been paying for, but not receiving. E-911 is a crucial safety measure that has been neglected for far too long. Now this life-saving 911 system can be implemented, and our families will have the security they deserve."
"Itís no secret that New Yorkís E-911 system needs improvements," Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington (D-Medford) said. "One of the systemís biggest problems is that emergency dispatchers are not able to trace wireless 911 calls to the location of the caller, turning potentially dangerous situations into tragic ones. This grant will go toward improving the systemís technology so lives can be saved."
"As a former police officer I know how important seconds are when responding to 911 calls," Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Central Islip) said. "The Expedited Deployment grant is the first step in getting E-911 up and running and making our emergency response faster and more effective. The sooner we get E-911 operational, the faster we will be able to save lives and make our communities safer."
Assemblywoman Ginny Fields (D/WFP Ė Oakdale) said, "Wireless phones have become an indispensable tool to protect ourselves in case of an emergency. Up to half of 911 calls are made from wireless phones, and the ability to trace the location of the caller is of utmost importance in saving lives. Providing these grants to local dispatchers so they can finally take advantage of this life-saving technology will help make our families much safer."