The number of rural Montana firefighters is decreasing, which could affect emergency response times to fast-moving wildfires, said Bob Harrington of the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Harrington said there are limits to how long volunteer firefighters can be away from their families and jobs, and added staffing will continue to be a challenge in rural areas in the future.
Fire departments in Pleasant View, Tenn., and Broome County, N.Y., have created fire safety houses in trailers to teach children about safety. Lessons in the Broome County trailer also cover burn prevention and calling 9-1-1.
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Despite the fact that dispatchers need "specialized skills and training" to save lives, the federal Office of Management and Budget is proposing to classify the position as an "Office and Administrative Support Occupation," writes Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif. This "diminishes the vital role dispatchers play and perpetuates a stereotype that impacts the resources available to dispatchers and 9-1-1 systems, particularly at a time when rapid technological changes are increasing demands on dispatchers," Torres writes.
Several state 9-1-1 agencies filed complaints with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission against communications companies over summer 9-1-1 outages, claiming in part that they had not been notified in a timely manner. A state legislative committee is studying how to improve the state's patchwork 9-1-1 system, including looking toward next-generation 9-1-1 technologies and FirstNet.
New York City police used the Wireless Emergency Alert system on Monday to send out a mass cellphone notification about a suspect who was sought in connection with the Manhattan explosion Saturday night. It was the first time the police used the mass alert, which asked people to call 9-1-1 if they saw the individual, who was ultimately arrested within three hours.
Emergency medical technicians respond on bicycles to some calls in downtown Fort Collins, Colo., on the weekends in an effort to improve 9-1-1 response times and help keep ambulances free to respond to life-threatening situations. In August, the teams responded to 33 incidents, which resulted in eight patients being transported by ambulance to a hospital.