During his testimony, Chief Johnson, immediate past president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and current Chief Executive Officer of the Western Fire Chiefs Association, addressed three key issues in achieving an interoperable public safety network including:
According to Johnson, local control of the network by public safety agencies would be a critical component. “We cannot have commercial providers defining when an emergency is taking place and deciding which communications should have the highest priority. Public safety transmissions have to go through without delay. A “no service” signal is not acceptable. The lives of firefighters, the lives of medics, the lives of law enforcement officers depend on this. It is our responsibility,” said Johnson.
A nationwide public safety broadband network would allow first responders to view building diagrams, hydrant locations, maps, and highway information on hand-held devices. It would provide video to facilitate instantaneous situational awareness of major fire and hazmat incidents in real-time. A future capability for emergency medical operations is the ability for digital imaging, portable EKGs and ultrasounds, field blood work, and video of an accident scene – all transmitted to an emergency department and a physician many miles away. Law enforcement would use the wireless broadband network for numerous applications from field fingerprint identification to the rapid access of criminal records.
The New York Times endorsed the allocation of D block spectrum to public safety earlier this week in an editorial entitled, Chilling Echoes from Sept. 11. The editorial states, “Congress should be haunted by the threat of new disasters finding rescue workers still incommunicado. Responsible lawmakers can mark the 10th anniversary by passing legislation to finally create a national public safety communications network.” The full piece can be read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/opinion/23mon1.html?_r=1