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Pandemic Response

Pandemic Response

FirstNet is helping communities respond to COVID-19 by supporting public safety communications across the country. Healthcare workers and first responders are using the FirstNet network to communicate and coordinate operations at COVID-19 testing centers, field hospitals, and incident command posts. The network allows them to maintain reliable communications when and where they need it most – even during surge situations where commercial networks can become congested – and interoperate with other first responders across federal, state, and local agencies. The network’s fleet of dedicated deployable assets – more than 100 portable cell sites available 24/7 at no additional charge – has also been called upon to help public safety agencies.

FirstNet portable cell sites and other devices have been deployed at testing facilities to ensure reliable communications for when crowds arrive for testing. The nation’s first COVID-19 Dedicated Care Center in Boston needed reliable communications fast to care for an influx of patients. Thousands of FirstNet Ready™ devices – including smartphones, MiFis and more – were delivered to help first responders test and treat patients.


FirstNet provided connections for public safety and healthcare workers inside the US Naval Ship Comfort in New York harbor by providing kits to install FirstNet service on the ship, and a FirstNet cell tower on wheels was used to bolster emergency communications for workers at the US Naval Ship Mercy in Los Angeles.

To prepare for and meet the demand of caring for COVID-19 patients in rural California, FirstNet supported emergency communications in Tulare County, where a remote, makeshift hospital was set up at the Porterville Developmental Center.  There, a portable FirstNet cell site was used to provide extra network coverage and capacity for public safety and healthcare workers in and around this critical healthcare facility.
“With this support, our first responders and healthcare personnel will have the priority connectivity they need, when they need it.”
Dennis Townsend, Tulare County (CA) Supervisor
The FirstNet Authority is actively working with tribal public safety agencies to support their unique communications needs and challenges for responding to COVID-19.  FirstNet deployable assets have been deployed to multiple tribal areas to support communication needs where first responders need connectivity, including on the Navajo Nation.
“We appreciate that FirstNet answered our call when we requested the deployable asset to provide critical connectivity for federal and tribal officials responding to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Chris Becenti, Executive Director, Navajo Nation Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Office

Emergency Communications Centers are critical for an effective emergency response, taking calls for assistance from the public and directing first responders to emergencies.  In the City of Alexandria, Virginia, hotspots and smartphones powered by the FirstNet network are enabling 9-1-1 dispatchers to take calls and handle Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) operations from their homes and remote locations.
“We didn’t want to rely on people’s home internet because we know they can lose connectivity. We know we won’t lose connectivity with FirstNet.”
Renee Gordon, Director of Department of Emergency & Customer Communications (DECC), City of Alexandria, VA

In Indiana, Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) medical supplies were received and distributed from a central location at Stout Field, Indiana Air National Guard Headquarters. Multiple state and local agencies came together to ensure that critical supplies reached local communities as quickly as possible. FirstNet provided seamless interoperability with the statewide radio system, which helped multi-agency communications and improved operations at Stout Field, Indiana Air National Guard Headquarters.
“The Indiana State Department of Health team leading this effort carried either radios or cell phones – or both – and communication became quite difficult. We suggested they try FirstNet, and connected an existing LMR talkgroup to the FirstNet ePTT app.  This solution really simplified and streamlined their communication process. They’re now FirstNet believers.”
Kelly Dignin, Executive Director, Integrated Public Safety Commission
“FirstNet has made a difference for our police department as we push forward technologically. I strongly recommend trying it, especially with the COVID-19 crisis.”
Chief Brian Schoonmaker, Hazleton Police