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When hurricanes strike, the main and immediate focus for first responders is rescuing and responding to those in need of aid. Last season, public safety officials relied on FirstNet to sustain and restore emergency communications for many hard-hit communities. FirstNet is critical to our nation’s first responders who battle storms day in and day out – and to those who have placed their confidence into the network’s communications capabilities to keep our communities safe
The third quarterly Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Plenary e-meetings of 2021 concluded in September. Participants spent considerable time on preliminary scoping of the Release 18 (R18) feature content and schedule. Delegates also made good progress on the stage 3 (protocol) work for Release 17. The R18 schedule discussion ended with an initial agreement on an 18 month timeline that will result in a December 2023 completion target date.
The Casper Police Department in Wyoming was one of the first agencies to use the FirstNet network in August 2017 when the city’s population was expected to nearly double during a solar eclipse. Four years later, FirstNet is providing Casper police officers with coverage across the city, dedicated applications to enhance operations, and connectivity to other city agencies during everyday incidents and major emergencies.
First responders’ inability to communicate after the 9/11 attacks underscored significant public safety communication shortfalls nationwide – including on tribal lands. The FirstNet Authority is working to bring FirstNet’s unique capabilities to tribal communities that are historically prone to communication challenges.
When disaster strikes, most emergency managers and public safety officials rely on pen and paper to conduct damage assessments. The process involves slow, manual data entry and can delay disaster aid for weeks. In Cherokee County, Alabama, emergency management personnel are using FirstNet devices to collect and upload damage assessment information in real time so that communities can get the help and resources they need faster.
Palm Beach County 9-1-1 in Florida answers roughly 10,000 calls per month, making reliable connectivity critical to serving the community. When the pandemic hit, this became even more important as call takers and dispatchers needed remote capabilities to stay safe. The agency is using FirstNet to keep staff connected through SIM cards in routers, on 9-1-1 busses, and in “go-bags” that enable remote capabilities.
When the Dallas Police Department in Georgia needed to move from a secondary dispatch to an enhanced 9-1-1 public safety answering point, some solutions presented agency leaders with steep costs for technology and equipment upgrades. FirstNet provided the department with a cost-effective solution for dispatch, as well as additional benefits for officers in the field, allowing the dispatch center to transition in just a few months.
FirstNet Authority Supports SMART emergency management practices through planning, preparedness programs
Emergency management agencies are turning to the FirstNet Authority’s planning tools and support mechanisms — including an exercise inject catalog, event pre-planning program, and post incident/event review process — to help emergency managers and other public safety officials integrate broadband into their daily operations and emergency response. Through collaborative efforts with our team, responders across the nation are leveraging these offerings as part of their SMART approach to emergency management.
Members of the Mason County Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) in West Virginia often find themselves working in more remote parts of the county. Understanding the importance of remaining connected, DHSEM and other county agencies switched to FirstNet after extensive testing. The county’s public safety agencies are now using the network to improve patient care during longer hospital transports and to enhance communications at COVID-19 testing sites.
The FirstNet Authority’s Emergency Management Community of Practice has developed a resource guide for emergency managers. The guide includes an overview of features and functions that may be used in their daily and emergency response roles. Many of the topics covered in the guide are applicable for coordinating response in the field or when an Emergency Operations Center has been activated.