Realizing that more recreational boaters are using cell phones as their primary form of communication, the United States Coast Guard is working to improve reliability of the 911 system. A provision in the recently passed Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 requires the Coast Guard to review its policies and procedures to “formulate a national maritime Public Safety Answering Points policy,” according to a statement from the Boat Owners Association of the United States.
There are more than 6,000 PSAPs in the U.S. They are local call centers with trained dispatchers that receive 911 emergency telephone calls and route them to the proper emergency service.
“This effort will help minimize the possibility of maritime calls being improperly routed and to assure the U.S. Coast Guard is able to effectively carry out its maritime search-and-rescue mission,” Tina Cardone, executive director of the Conference of Professional Operators for Response Towing, in a statement. C-PORT members, made up of on-water towing industry companies from across the country, contributed to the legislative effort and one of most vehement supporters was Capt. Jeff Dziedzic, owner of TowBoatUS Mystic, Connecticut.
“This was a grass-roots effort by many and took years of working with the U.S. Coast Guard and elected officials,” said Dziedzic. “We care about this because of our occasional role in responding to life-threatening events as good Samaritans, as well as answering calls for more routine requests for assistance.”
In a video captured from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Dziedzic’s local congressman, thanked the captain for his efforts on the issue.
BoatUS also thanked Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Representatives Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) and Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) for their work on the reauthorization.
Additional TowBoatUS C-PORT members who joined the effort included Capt. Chad Noetzel, TowBoatUS Port Huron, Mich., Capt. Terry Hill, TowBoatUS Potomac, Va., Capt. Richard Paul, TowBoatUS Cape Coral, Fla., and Capt. Chris Shaffner, TowBoatUS Palm Beach, Fla.