Wireless tech discussed in wake of Columbine

Public safety officials -- including an emergency response official from Littleton, Colo. -- this week will brief a U.S. Senate committee on the benefits of establishing a national 911 system to cut down on the time it takes public safety personnel to respond to emergencies.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's Communications Subcommittee (www.senate.gov/~commerce) will take up the "The Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999."

The legislation (S. 800), available for download at frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=106_cong_bills&docid=f:s800is.txt.pdf, will require statewide coordination of local public safety, fire service, law enforcement and emergency dispatch providers. It also will require the official designation of 911 as the national number to call in case of emergency.

Among witnesses testifying at the hearing is an official who played a role in the emergency response effort to last month's shooting at Columbine High School, Littleton, Colo. The Littleton official will brief the committee on the role of cellular phones played in public safety officials' response to the massacre, a subcommittee spokesman said.

-- Jennifer Jones (jjones@civic.com)

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