This is the latest in a blog series highlighting the associations of the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet Authority’s) Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). PSAC members represent associations and agencies from all public safety disciplines, as well as state, territorial, tribal, and local governments. Together, they provide guidance and recommendations to the FirstNet Authority in carrying out its duties and responsibilities. The PSAC’s input is invaluable to the development of FirstNet, the nationwide broadband network dedicated to public safety.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers respond to life-threatening emergencies, serve as part of the community healthcare team, and help safeguard communities nationwide. In providing urgent and immediate medical care, EMS officials face a unique set of communications needs and concerns. Broadband technologies and applications are aiding in pre-hospital care by enabling EMS officials to quickly send advanced diagnostic information and implement advanced treatments in a mobile environment in the field.
Each state EMS system has its own coordinating and regulating agency and, with few exceptions, the officials running these bodies are members of the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO). NASEMSO is a nationwide organization that develops EMS policy, acts as a voice for the EMS community, and provides information and research on EMS-related issues.
A long-time advocate of FirstNet for EMS
NASEMSO has long been a supporter of FirstNet and has continually been involved in the nationwide public safety broadband network’s planning and development, advising on how the network can best serve EMS providers. NASEMSO has been instrumental in increasing awareness of FirstNet among EMS providers throughout the country, and in 2016, the association passed a resolution calling on all EMS providers to “prepare for and support” the implementation of the FirstNet network. NASEMSO explained that “the practice of EMS and its impact on patient care will be substantially improved” with FirstNet.
Kevin McGinnis, NASEMSO Program Manager and retired Chief of North East Mobile Health Services and NorthStar Ambulance in Maine, continues to advise Maine and other rural EMS agencies. He also serves as the NASEMSO representative to the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). Formerly a member of the FirstNet Authority Board, McGinnis continues to use his extensive expertise in EMS to guide the nation’s public safety broadband network as a member of the PSAC Executive Committee. He is also plays a critical role on the PSAC Telehealth Strike Team, which is examining the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) program and telehealth applications, both important topics of discussion across the EMS community nationwide.
“The unique relationship among the FirstNet Authority, its PSAC, and the operator of the network gives me and my public safety colleagues the most reliable assurance that FirstNet, as a carrier, is looking out for us as its first priority, said McGinnis.
“The PSAC and its public safety and other association members have helped lead the FirstNet nationwide public safety broadband network to have the features public safety wants and needs. From the security and reliability of priority and preemption, to high power user equipment, we are shaping our own broadband future.”
FirstNet equips EMS providers with life-saving technology
The FirstNet network is enabling EMS personnel to exchange key diagnostic information with doctors and provide treatment to patients like never before. The network’s capabilities are being realized in EMS agencies nationwide for improving situational awareness, clinical and operational decision-making, and having the capacity to connect new technology tools to telemedicine services.
This has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when EMS professionals must find a way to treat patients safely. FirstNet has enabled many EMS officials to provide online medical consultation and specialty care while remaining adequately distanced to stay healthy themselves.
Additionally, the network has proven particularly useful to EMS officials providing services in more remote areas. With access to Band 14 – high-quality spectrum reserved for public safety use – in many rural communities, FirstNet provides a reliable connection and access to advanced capabilities and tools. EMS personnel are using FirstNet devices and public safety applications to communicate and exchange key diagnostic information securely with doctors and healthcare facility staff in real time, improving care for patients in the field.
The network is designed to handle the unique challenges of EMS because public safety has played an active role in guiding network solutions and innovations since the beginning. Through ongoing engagement with public safety stakeholders and PSAC members like NASEMSO, the FirstNet Authority has gathered critical feedback on how the network can meet public safety’s operational needs. This feedback helped enhance the newly updated Roadmap, a five-year plan to guide the growth and evolution of FirstNet. The Roadmap is continually updated to ensure the network is evolving to improve the FirstNet experience for all users and those they serve.
“In Maine, we are looking forward to a remotely located clinic offering 24/7 service, including community paramedicine staff connected to emergency physicians at night, using newly completed FirstNet connectivity,” said McGinnis. “It may serve as a statewide model for our islands and other rural/wilderness populations.”
To learn about the PSAC and how FirstNet is transforming public safety communications — contact your local FirstNet Authority Public Safety Advisor or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for the latest FirstNet Authority updates.
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