By Jason Porter, President, Public Sector and FirstNet, AT&T
This past weekend, severe storms and deadly tornadoes devastated the Midwest, destroying homes and demolishing city centers. And while every disaster is different, there is one constant: the brave women and men on the frontlines who respond and restore the communities they serve.
From firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement to the extended public safety community on the ground, the ability to seamlessly talk with one another is critical. That’s why America’s first responders advocated for the creation of FirstNet® – the only network built with and for first responders providing them with always-on priority and true preemption capabilities.
And now, FirstNet, Built with AT&T is delivering connectivity for the first responders our communities count on the most. The resiliency of the FirstNet network kept it operational at more than 91% of normal in Kentucky immediately following the storm’s impact. But in the pockets most heavily impacted, that’s where FirstNet’s unparalleled level of emergency support comes in. So far, we’ve supported 30 requests from federal, state and local agencies, providing solutions such as dedicated deployable network assets, in-building solutions, FirstNet Ready® devices and other innovative capabilities to help keep them mission-ready. And in Kentucky, our FirstNet Response Operations Group is on the ground helping keep public safety connected:
-Dawson Springs: Sunday morning (Dec. 12), first responders were without power and had extremely limited communications. FirstNet Response Operations immediately setup a FirstNet Micro SatCOLT (Satellite Cell on Light Truck) and within minutes had city officials connected with voice, text and data to continue their life-saving operations. And when a SatCOLT arrived onsite, it provided connectivity to support the first responders in the area, as well as enabling anyone in the community needing assistance to communicate.
-Mayfield: We deployed multiple FirstNet assets to provide connectivity to support public safety’s missions. We’ve installed an in-building solution to support first responders at a command center and have deployed a dedicated FirstNet SatCOLT to provide essential coverage to first responders at the devastated candle factory near town.
-Benton: At the request of public safety agencies, we deployed several assets at local agency offices and at a local church where responders have been distributing supplies to those impacted by these storms. FirstNet Response Operations setup Micro SatCOLTS to provide connectivity until dedicated FirstNet SatCOLTs arrived on-scene.
We’re also embedded with urban search & rescue teams and activating one of our new Micro SatCOLTs as they search the wreckage, buildings and nearby areas in other hard-hit areas of Kentucky.
With FirstNet, we make public safety’s mission the priority. We believe FirstNet is the most important wireless network in the country because it is specifically designed to serve America’s first responders. More than 18,500 public safety agencies and supporting organizations, representing over 2.8 million connections1, enjoy interoperable communications with one another on FirstNet. And we’ll continue to Be There for this vital community, no matter where the mission takes them. That’s what it means to be public safety’s partner.