Washington first responders face the challenges of responding in Seattle and other growing urban areas, rural farms in Eastern Washington, the mountainous terrain of the Cascades, and on the lands of the state’s 29 federally recognized tribes. Protecting the state’s sea ports and shared international border with Canada also keeps public safety on high alert.
The First Responder Network Authority team recognizes the unique communications challenges that Washington first responders face. We have been working closely with Washington public safety officials since 2014, capturing their feedback and translating it into the design of the FirstNet network. During the development of state deployment plans, our team worked hand-in-hand with Washington leaders to ensure the plan was customized to address their needs, including:
- Expanding rural and tribal coverage as well as extending coverage to major thoroughfares in the state
- Making deployable network assets available quickly for emergency and natural disaster incidents in rural areas, as well as for planned events
Following this close collaboration, Washington chose 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, our engagements included quarterly planning meetings with the Governor’s staff and other state leaders; formal consultation with the Colville Tribe of Indians; an in-depth discussion with the Makah Tribe in northwestern Washington; and meetings with the King County Sheriff’s Office, Bainbridge Island first responders, and the Washington E911 Advisory Board. 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.
FirstNet in Action in Washington
- Thunderbird and Whale was the first-ever national-level exercise fully planned and executed by tribal nations. Lynda Zambrano, Executive Director of the National Tribal Emergency Management Council, recounts her team’s approach to the exercise and how they maximized resources to benefit tribal communities in the Pacific Northwest.
- When a wildfire broke out near Glenwood, Washington, first responders quickly discovered the remote area had nearly no cell service. Needing to communicate with one another as well as check weather reports and order additional supplies, the incident management team requested a FirstNet deployable asset. Within hours, the firefighters were connected with the situational awareness they needed.
- First responders in tribal nations are tackling the COVID-19 health crisis with dedication and innovation, and many are turning to technology solutions to enhance their operations. Tribal nations like the Colville Tribes in Washington have gotten a boost in coverage from FirstNet at testing sites and emergency operation centers.
- Every day, the men and women of law enforcement protect and serve our communities. Officers interact with many people every day, and each individual has unique needs. Law enforcement agencies, like the Folsom Police Department in California and the Seattle Police Department in Washington, are turning to innovative technology and applications to provide individualized support to people in crisis. FirstNet is supporting this innovation through its secure, reliable network and a catalog of apps for first responders.