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With land stretching from the coastal areas of the Chesapeake Bay to the rural Appalachian Mountains, Virginia has a diverse landscape that provides different challenges for the state’s first responders. Communication is important for public safety agencies not only across the state, but throughout the region as agencies in northern Virginia regularly work with public safety agencies in both Maryland and the District of Columbia.  

The First Responder Network Authority team recognizes the unique communications challenges that Virginia first responders face. We have been working closely with Virginia public safety officials since 2014, capturing their feedback and working with AT&T, our network partner, to translate it into the design of the FirstNet network. During the development of state deployment plans, our team worked hand-in-hand with Virginia leaders to ensure the plan was customized to address their needs, including:  

  • Increasing coverage in rural areas and capacity in urban areas of the Commonwealth  
  • Coordinating with military and federal government users
  • Making deployable network assets available for natural disasters 

Following this close collaboration, Virginia became the first state in the nation to adopt the plan and “opt in” to FirstNet. Today, we continue to meet regularly with state and local officials to discuss their public safety broadband needs. In 2019 alone, our team met with Virginia public safety officials 50 times. Our engagements in Virginia included the Central Virginia EMS Expo, a meeting with Chesterfield County public safety agencies, a Mission Critical Services Workshop in Fairfax County, and regular, ongoing meetings with Loudoun County public safety agencies. Engagements like these are crucial to the ongoing success of the network and the advancement of public safety communications across the state and the nation. 

Connect with our team of Public Safety Advisors to learn about FirstNet in your community.  

Virginia's FirstNet Authority Public Safety Advisor

Lori Stone headshot
Lori Stone

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We heavily use mobile data in order to be more efficient in delivering information to responders and to retrieve information independently from the communications center. FirstNet allows us to have that priority and preemption so that it is available to us all the time.

Stephen M. Willoughby
Director and Chief, Richmond Department of Emergency Communications

FirstNet in Action in Virginia

  • The University of Virginia (UVA) Health system uses nearly 4,000 mobile devices, powered by FirstNet, to enhance care for patients. The leader of UVA Health’s Mobile Device Technologies program, Anthony Thompson, discusses the impact of FirstNet in healthcare and how it’s supporting telemedicine capabilities, translation services, and rural healthcare.
  • One thing the 9-1-1 community learned from the pandemic was the need to plan for alternate ways to work. Rather than be tied to workstations at fixed locations, 9-1-1 telecommunicators need flexibility to remotely take, dispatch, and supervise calls. 9-1-1 leaders looked to technology for a solution. Through FirstNet, the nationwide public-safety broadband network, first responders had access to a secure, reliable connection outside of the ECC. 
  • First responders have worked tirelessly to keep our country safe, and even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. FirstNet offers reliable and adaptive mobile broadband solutions to first responders as they continue to be on the frontlines of COVID-19 response. With the pandemic bringing a new set of challenges to delivering public safety services, emergency managers across the country, are turning to FirstNet’s innovative solutions to support the continuity of operations.
  • The Central Virginia Healthcare Coalition (CVHC) is one of six coalitions in the Commonwealth of Virginia and helps its membership plan, train, and respond to incidents and events in the region. FirstNet is supporting communications for CVHC during emergencies, in its response to COVID-19, and in preparation for large events and protests.