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Schumer: New Yorks Cops, Firefighters & Emts Likely To Get Nations First Signal Corps Style Program To Communicate At Terror Sites

Last night the Senate passed a Schumer plan to begin the first pilot Signal Corps style program to enhance communications between first responders at the time of a terrorist attacks; DHS Secretary will choose two cities based on criteria that fits NYC such as threat risk and population

If NYC is chosen, new US Homeland Security program could send NYC millions for pilot program to be run

US Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the Senate last night voted to authorize the nations first Signal Corps style program and said that New York is likely to be selected for one of two pilot programs which would drastically improve communications between the citys first responders at a terror site. The model programs funded by Federal Homeland Security Funding would create a specialized demonstration project of police, firefighters, EMTs, and other emergency personnel whose only job is to guarantee that first responders can communicate with one another, headquarters and the public at disaster sites and after terrorist attacks.

"When it comes to improving our emergency communications, Washington has sent New York City more requirements than resources and more caveats than cash," Schumer said. "The Federal government has more than a century of experience and expertise keeping the communications coming and going during chaos. This is a great first step towards getting the resources we need to model our own emergency communication system for the Finest and the Bravest on theirs, and I am going to keep pushing to get this program for New York and to see that it is up and running quickly."

Schumer said that if New York City is chosen, the program will be designed to prevent a repeat of the tragic situation on 9/11 where 120 New York City firefighters needless died in the north tower of the World Trade Center because they could not hear warnings on their radios that the south tower had already collapsed. In May, the 9/11 Commission held hearings in New York City and reiterated that not nearly enough has been done to help the New York Police Department (NYPD), the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), New York Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and others with radio interoperability and other persistent communication problems. The Commission heard testimony that a more unified central command post could have saved lives and helped pass word that the Twin Towers were about to collapse and needed to be evacuated.

Schumers measure that would set up two Signal Corps style pilot programs passed in the Senate last night as part of the National Intelligence Reform Act by a vote of 962. The measure authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to select two American cities for the pilot programs within 90 days of passage of the Intelligence Reform Act by the full Congress and directly addresses the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission that highrisk urban areas such as New York City and Washington, D.C., should establish signal corps units to ensure communications connectivity between and among civilian authorities, local first responders, and the National Guard.

Under Schumers plan, DHS will set up first responder interagency communication demonstration projects in the cities to work on solutions to the problems of radio interoperability and interagency communications. The Defense Department will help DHS solve interagency communications problems by sharing the lessons learned and expertise of the U.S. military in this area, including the concept of Signal Corps, which has allowed thousands of American troops to communicate with each other and their commanders during many foreign wars and crises. The US Army Signal Corps is a specialized military regiment whose only job is to guarantee that fighting forces on the battlefield can communicate with one another, headquarters and the public at all times. Schumer said that the DHS Secretary will use criteria to select the cities that fits New York City, including the level of threat risk, the number of Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies located in the area and the number of potential victims from a large terrorist attack in the area, and that New York will likely be selected for one of the two programs. The programs will be up and running soon after final passage of the bill and the DHS will be required to submit a report on its progress within 18 months enactment.

"When it comes to coordinating the communication between first responders, New York City is lightyears ahead of where we were on September 10, 2001. Now we're looking for a hand up, not a handout, Schumer said. New York City cannot wait any longer for this help and I will work hard to ensure Congress and DHS send our first responders the know how and resources they need to strengthen their defense at the time of an attack.

Schumers Signal Corps style program awaits final passage by the House of Representatives and the Presidents signature.