West Virginia faces unique public safety challenges with its rural landscape of mountains and forests. It is also home to an emerging high-tech corridor on Interstate 79, as well as coal mines throughout the state, which can be prone to emergencies.
The First Responder Network Authority team recognizes the unique communications challenges that West Virginia first responders face. We have been working closely with West 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 West Virginia leaders to ensure the plan was customized to address their needs, including:
- Extending coverage to first responders in rural areas – particularly those prone to emergencies like the many coal mines throughout the state
- Understanding how to handle the sensitive interference issues surrounding the National Radio Quiet Zone in Green Bank
- Making solutions available to support the state’s large base of volunteer emergency responders
Following this close collaboration, West Virginia 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 alone, our team met with West Virginia public safety officials 10 times. Our engagements in West Virginia included presenting at the West Virginia Interoperability Conference and the West Virginia State Emergency Response Conference, and participating in monthly meetings with the West Virginia Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee. 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.
- 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.
- First responders in Preston County got a major boost in their wireless communications with the launch of a FirstNet cell site. The site – located in Fellowsville – is part of the FirstNet network expansion taking place in West Virginia, which is bringing purpose-built coverage, capacity, and capabilities to first responders across the state.