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Rodgers and Dingell Look to Create Nationwide System to Improve 911 Emergency Response for People with Disabilities


08.19.21

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) introduced the “Information Sharing and Advanced Communication (ISAAC) Alerting” Act, which directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prepare a report on how to implement a nationwide 9–1–1 disability alerting system.

“The idea of this legislation was brought to me by an amazing mom and advocate named Holly from Spokane, Washington. She’s an ability advocate in memory of her son Isaac, and she’s made a difference in our community with the ISAAC Alert System, which is currently helping emergency responders in Eastern Washington and Idaho better aid people with disabilities,” said Leader Rodgers. “Far too often, first responders lack critical information and training when responding to people with disabilities. This can put families, first responders, and people with disabilities at risk during an emergency situation. By requiring the FCC to examine the feasibility of implementing a 9-1-1 disability alerting system, the ISAAC Alerting Act will help identify and address the challenges first responders face in these situations. It will improve the overall quality of care when a first responder enters a home and may need to provide unique assistance to someone with a disability.”

“We have a responsibility to ensure law enforcement agencies and first responders have vital information they need when responding to emergency calls to keep themselves and the public safe,” said Rep. Dingell. “With this legislation, we will take a critical first step in ensuring law enforcement and first responders are better equipped to respond to 911 calls from households with an individual with a disability.”

“I feel very fortunate that Spokane County has the technology, infrastructure and support from local first response agencies to make ISAAC Alerts available to our disability community. There is a tremendous amount of comfort knowing first responders arriving at your home have important information to help them navigate an emergency more effectively with your loved one with a disability. Seeing our information sharing system implemented nationwide would be a dream come true,” said Holly Goodman, ISAAC Foundation.

CLICK HERE to read the bill.

Note: The ISAAC Alert system currently operates in cooperation with Spokane County Dispatch and the Spokane Fire Department. The namesake of the Isaac Alert is Isaac Lytle, a Spokane resident with Autism Spectrum Disorder who passed away in 2007. Isaac inspired his mother Holly to help families with loved ones with autism. Today, the ISAAC Foundation provides educational, emotional, and financial support programs to families in Spokane, Stevens, Lincoln, Whitman, and Kootenai Counties. As part of its work, the ISAAC Foundation worked with Spokane County Dispatch to create the ISAAC Alert system to inform law enforcement if there is someone with a disability residing in a home where they are responding. This legislation will assist in expanding that alerting system nationwide.

Leader Rodgers learned about the ISAAC Foundation in 2016 and was inspired by Holly’s work as an ability advocate to honor her son, Isaac, through outreach and engagement in the autism and disability communities. Holly shared the value the ISAAC Alert System to families and first responders in Eastern Washington and the challenges communities across the country have faced when trying to implement a similar system. Informed by Holly’s advocacy, Leader Rodgers is working with Rep. Dingell to create a pathway for a nationwide disability alerting system. The ISAAC Alerting Act is the first step in this process.

Press Release