In Our Opinion: Integrating 9-1-1 systems can save lives
One of the reasonable expectations most people have in this era of high-tech communications is that if they have to dial 9-1-1 on their mobile phones, they'll be connected to emergency assistance - no matter where they are.
A harrowing tragedy in January, however, proved that the 9-1-1 system is not quite as seamless as it should be.
Senators Bob Casey, of Scranton, and Susan M. Collins and Angus S. King Jr. of Maine pointed out the need to integrate the system between states. They recounted the saga of Timothy Davison, 28, of Poland, Maine, who was murdered in Pennsylvania Jan. 14 along Interstate 81, after just crossing the border with Maryland. He was en route home to Maine from Florida.
Davis called 9-1-1 while in Maryland to report that he was being pursued by someone who was firing a gun at him. The call apparently was dropped as he crossed the state line, and it took some time for it to be rerouted to a dispatcher in Pennsylvania. Davis was forced off the road, shot and killed as he sat in his car.
It's not clear whether he would have received assistance in time but for the dropped call, or whether he would have had time to at least relay a description of his assailant.
The senators asked the National Telecommunications & Information Administration for an update on "Next Generation 9-1-1," which would eliminate remaining analog systems in favor of fully digital, integrated emergency dispatching.
They should lead a congressional effort to do whatever is necessary to expedite the development.