FirstNet: The First Line of Defense in Emergency Management

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When emergencies strike, FirstNet provides first responders the advanced communication and collaboration technologies they need to help them do their jobs safely and effectively. Authorized by Congress in 2012, under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, FirstNet works with emergency managers nationwide to incorporate its unique benefits in emergency operation centers (EOCs) through exercises and drills, and with deployables.

FirstNet deployables (mobile cell sites) boost coverage during disasters or large planned events. Available to subscribers 24/7 at no extra cost, deployables link to FirstNet via satellite and provide the capabilities and connectivity similar to a cell tower. FirstNet’s expanding fleet currently has 72 deployables plus three flying cells-on-wings and a blimp.

According to FirstNet, the key to superior emergency management is preparedness. That’s why FirstNet uses exercises and drills to ensure emergency management teams plan accordingly. TF Green International Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island turned to FirstNet to help with communications during a routine emergency management exercise that simulated mass aircraft casualties.  

David Schnell, Emergency Management Preparedness Branch Chief, said, “Having [FirstNet] introduced into the realm of drills and exercises makes it easier for first responders to be able to view real data in real time and also assist with the actual response to the victims.”

EOC’s also benefit from the supporting command of FirstNet to manage public emergencies and large-scale operations and events. By supplying a strong wireless connection, public safety personnel working in the field can efficiently and quickly assess, evaluate, and manage emergency situations. This critical exchange of data gives public safety and government officials clear and accurate assessments of emergency situations.

Michael Binder, Senior IT Analyst for Kansas City, was tasked with ensuring public safety when over one million residents gathered to celebrate the Chiefs 2020 Super Bowl championship. FirstNet, the only communications network on site in the EOC during the parade, provided support and training for the uplift tool, local control portal, and advanced network status tool—features not available on commercial networks.

“We deployed 80 FirstNet devices to our public safety officials and tested voice calls, sent and received video, and verified push-to-talk functionality,” Binder said about the city’s preparation. “The FirstNet team was in the EOC giving us hands-on support.”

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