The federal government has released a report saying emergency responders in most U.S. cities still do not have the equipment and training they need for "interoperability" -- the ability to communicate easily with each other during a crisis.
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said Wednesday that policies for interoperable communications are in place in all 75 of the areas studied. But the report says only six of 75 cities and regions surveyed have received high grades for "interoperability".
The federal government has given nearly $3 billion in grants to state and local communities to improve emergency communications systems since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Many New York City firefighters were killed in the 2001 attacks because they were unable to hear police warnings to evacuate the World Trade Center towers before they collapsed.
The department gives "most advanced" status to Washington, San Diego, California, Columbus, Ohio, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Laramie County, Wyoming.
The worst scores went to Chicago, Illinois, Cleveland, Ohio, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mandan, North Dakota, and the territory of American Samoa.