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Ref: VA issues first responders field credentials


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A First for First Responders in Alexandria, Arlington

By Kerri Cox
Special to WTOP Radio

ARLINGTON, Va. - Two local communities have become the first in the U.S. to provide their first responders with a new credentials tool.

The city of Alexandria and Arlington County have now implemented the First Responder Authentication Credentials (FRAC) system that uses a card to verify the credentials of first responders at emergency scenes.

The FRAC card, a high-tech identification card, is encoded with critical data obtained by using a wireless, hand-held device. The data can then be used to confirm the qualifications of first responders, allowing emergency response commanders to dispatch them quickly and appropriately.

"Cards will actually have the attributes of the person, whether they're a firefighter or a paramedic or a technical rescue technician," says Mark Penn, Alexandria's emergency management coordinator.

The FRAC card was devised following the Sept. 11 attacks when onlookers were able to mingle with rescuers. Now, the card allows commanders to securely establish the identities of emergency responders at the scene of an incident.

The FRAC card also improves cooperation and efficiency between state and local first responders and their federal counterparts.

The new first responder credential is part of the First Responder Partnership Initiative which includes the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Capitol Region, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia's Office of Commonwealth Preparedness and Arlington County.

Alexandria and Arlington have issued over 2,000 FRAC cards to their emergency service workers.

(Copyright 2007 by WTOP Radio. All Rights Reserved.)

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