More training, communications funds needed, first responders say.

Position:Homeland Security News

During both the 9/11 attacks and the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, police and firefighters had difficulties communicating as they tried to save lives.

First responders urged Congress recently to provide more funding for stronger intelligence information sharing across federal, state and local levels and for training with new communication devices.

"Maintaining preparedness in the face of evolving risks requires mechanisms for identifying lessons from past response operations and applying them to improve preparedness nationwide," Brian A. Jackson, director of the RAND safety and justice program, said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing.

First responders' tasks and missions are not getting any easier and require more extensive training, he said. Exercises and drills can be used to better inform officials on incident response operations for more effective preparation.

John Miller, deputy commissioner for the New York City Police Department, agreed with Jackson and said, "With every drill, with every exercise, we glean lessons that will be invaluable if, or more likely, when we are faced with one of these real-world challenges in our streets."

James Hooley, chief of Boston Emergency Medical Services, said communication among agencies of different cities and districts still needs improvement. Training with other districts will clear up confusion and provide better intelligence, he added.

"The more responders understand the protocols and priorities of other disciplines, the more they are able to work collaboratively in support of a shared success," Hooley said. to be fully knowledgeable on new communication devices. "The more we are able to provide opportunities for personnel to train and exercise together, the more it becomes second nature," Hooley said.

First responders promoted utilization of shared protocols, rapid transport of injured patients, conducting prior meetings before large-scale events and having bomb-detection K-9s present. Miller said today, agencies require more resources to police events that once only required some crowd and traffic control.

"Whether it is the Israeli Day, parade, the Super Bowl Boulevard events in Times Square this past February, or the New York City Marathon, each plan comes with a complex counterterrorism overlay that requires additional...

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