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The original item was published from 10/24/2016 12:39:09 PM to 1/1/2017 12:00:10 AM.

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Posted on: October 24, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Washington County supports "Rescuing 911"!

Wash Co Rescuing 911 Graphic.JPG

A statewide coalition of advocates composed of county leaders, emergency planners, and first responders announced their support recently for a state-wide public awareness effort dubbed “Rescuing 911”, designed to raise awareness that county-operated 9-1-1 call centers across New York State are facing escalating call volumes with aging systems.

The effort was unveiled during national preparedness month to raise the profile of a widely held concern that our emergency communication systems need more dedicated resources to address call volume and communication technologies.

Rescuing 911 has the backing and support of a wide range of local officials state-wide, including county executives, sheriffs, legislators, supervisors, 9-1-1 coordinators, firefighters, emergency managers, and other first responders.

In 2015, members of our own Washington County 9-1-1 Communications Center processed over 124,000 calls for service / assistance, and processed 65,212 incidents through the Communications Center, providing service and support for our residents, visitors and field partners.

In Washington County our dedicated professionals provide 9-1-1 Communications services for the residents, visitors and business of the 17 towns and 8 villages locally. We also provide and coordinate dispatching services for 35 fire departments (9 of which are in bordering Vermont communities), 10 Emergency Medical Service agencies (2 of which are in bordering Vermont communities) and a collaboration of 10 law enforcement agencies, which includes all of our state and local partners we serve alongside on a daily basis.

The federal government has recognized the need to adapt these new technologies and they are requiring states and localities to adopt new Next Gen 9-1-1 (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 private homes, funeral homes or local businesses, and residents or workers would then notify the local emergency responders. 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, as we are in Washington County. However in the absence of additional resources many counties, like our own, will be unable to finance public safety upgrades and equipment without a more dedicated revenue stream.

On Friday, October 21, 2016, members of the Washington County Board of Supervisors passed two resolutions in support of the efforts “Rescuing 9-1-1” stands for, both urging Governor Cuomo and our state legislators to ensure there is a 9-1-1 surcharge on all wireless devices capable of accessing 9-1-1 services (including those pre-paid devices), to develop a statewide plan for “Next Generation 9-1-1” and create a New York State 911 Department that supports county Public Safety Answering Points and enhances local emergency dispatch services and funding.

“Washington County is proud to support the efforts of the New York State Association of Counties, our partner counties around the state of New York, and the “Rescuing 911” effort to ensure our counties, statewide, that are operating the 911 Communications Centers and PSAPs are receiving the funding and support from the State of New York we all desperately need to provide these life-saving, essential services.”, said Christopher DeBolt, Washington County Administrator.

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