Illinois joins communications network for first responders

WHEELING, Ill. (AP) — Illinois has decided to join dozens of other states in a national communications network for first responders.

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Monday that Illinois would join the FirstNet program. The governor’s office says the network is being built, operated and maintained at no cost to participating states through a public-private partnership between FirstNet and AT&T. State officials say it will provide enhanced wireless broadband technology to public safety workers statewide.

FirstNet comes out of a 9/11 Commission finding that clogged communication lines made it difficult to warn firefighters that the twin towers were collapsing. It is an independent authority within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz says the network will give first responders the “best possible chance to save lives and provide aid to the injured.”