Five years ago, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Matthew S. Evans and Oklahoma City Police Officer Jeff Rominger were killed after their cars collided during a police pursuit. Today, State Senator Kenneth Corn has filed legislation to equip Oklahoma with an 800 MHZ statewide emergency communication system to prevent this type of tragedy from striking again.
“The tragedy of the loss of these two honorable public servants revealed that Oklahoma had a great need to implement a statewide emergency communication system,” Corn said. “If there had been a system in place that would have allowed local, state and federal agencies to communicate with each other, these two men might still be alive today.”
Corn said Senate Bill 1030, also known as the Matthew S. Evans, Jeff Rominger Act will provide the necessary funds to build a 800 MHZ statewide emergency communication system that will allow local, state and federal agencies to communicate directly with each other rather than through dispatchers.
The Senator also said this upgraded technology will give Oklahoma emergency response agencies the ability to coordinate a faster response during crisis situations including natural disasters and acts of terrorism. He said in just the past week, Oklahoma fire fighters have battled wildfires throughout the state without the ability to communicate with each other-often times causing confusion for those coordinating and fighting the wildfires that have burned thousands of acres of ranch land.
“Oklahomans are all too familiar with the tragedy that comes from both natural disasters and terrorism,” Corn said. “In emergency situations like these, speed saves lives."
Senator Corn said the need for a better communication system for emergency workers for different levels of government was made even greater on a national level this year during the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when local, state and federal agencies were unable to communicate effectively.
“Oklahoma communities and Oklahoma families should never be left behind when tragedy strikes,” Corn said. “The State of Oklahoma needs to be responsible to the citizens of this great state and that is why I believe it is imperative that we invest in this new technology.”
State Fire Marshal Robert Doke said eventually the entire nation will be on an 800 MHZ system and that just this week, the federal 911 Commission said building these statewide emergency communication systems should be top priority for homeland security officials throughout the nation.
“The communication system that will be built as a result of the passage of SB 1030 will make Oklahoma a leader across the country in the implementation of this technology,” Doke said.
Corn pointed out that Oklahoma should take the lead in becoming one of the first states in the nation to implement this life saving communication system.
“Oklahoma communities and families deserve the safety this statewide communications system will bring.”