One year after Gov. John Kasich elected to have AT&T build out the FirstNet network platform in first responders in Ohio are already benefitting from enhanced emergency communications. FirstNet is the country’s nationwide public safety communications platform dedicated to first responders. Being built with AT&T*, in public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), FirstNet is bringing public safety a much-needed technology upgrade.
“During times of crisis, communication is key. We need to do what we can to help ensure that our first responders at all levels – local, state and federal – are able to stay connected. That’s exactly what we’ve seen FirstNet do – with what happened here in Medina County this summer as a great example,” said Christina Fozio, director of the Medina County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. “We appreciate the chance to work with this public-private partnership to help keep our public safety personnel connected – and our communities safe.”
In August, the Medina County fairgrounds hosted a performance by a country music artist who had been relatively unknown when the show was scheduled months before. In the ensuing weeks his popularity took off, bringing a capacity crowd of more than 8,400 to the local event that had been expected to pull in no more than 4,500. The Medina County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security quickly developed an incident action plan and served as the unified command of local first responders to ensure a safe and secure event
“Keeping that size crowd safe, and handling any issues that may arise, simply requires that the first responders can talk to each other,” said Fozio. “A crowd of that size brings unique challenges and communication networks can be easily overwhelmed. Completing a call or even a text was tough. The only exceptions were the three phones we had just acquired when we subscribed to FirstNet. Those phones had absolutely no problems. Those were the only three devices that worked without interruption. We provided the phones to our stakeholders in our Unified Command Post and field responders to make sure we could communicate efficiently. The event went well, visitors had a great experience – and we’ve since added two more FirstNet phones in the office as well as Wi-Fi devices to be certain we have what we need for any future events.”
Public safety agencies subscribing to FirstNet also have access to a nationwide fleet of 72 dedicated deployable network assets. This equipment can be deployed for planned events, such as large concerts, or called upon in emergencies. To date in 2018, the FirstNet team at AT&T has supported more than 100 emergency and event response efforts, from hurricanes and flooding responses to wildfires.
That’s just one way FirstNet is working for first responders in Ohio and across the nation, according to Edward Parkinson, Acting CEO for the FirstNet Authority. “Emergencies and disasters can happen in any community, and FirstNet is being built with all first responders in mind – especially those serving in rural or underserved areas,” said Parkinson. “As we planned for this network, we worked hand-in-hand with public safety and state officials here in Ohio to ensure FirstNet would meet their needs. Now, one year after Ohio approved of the FirstNet plan, we are honored to be supporting the state’s first responders as they serve and protect their communities.”
Thousands of Ohio’s first responders now rely on FirstNet for their wireless communications, including the Franklin County Office of Homeland Security and Regional Communications (Columbus), the Perry Township Police Department (Dublin), the Sharon Township Police Department (Worthington), and the South Bloomfield Police Department (Pickaway County). This gives them enhanced security on a dedicated, physically separate network core that prioritizes their communications. And it brings FirstNet subscribers in Ohio the technology, features and functionality designed to properly handle their rigorous, specific and niche demands.
Adam Grzybicki, President, AT&T in said the company has made much progress in implementing this unique public-private partnership in Ohio and nationwide. “Thanks to great collaboration with many of the leaders across the state and locally, we’re moving quickly to build out the network and sign on new public safety agencies. FirstNet was designed by and for our first responders, and we’re working hard every day to meet our mission – which is helping public safety achieve theirs.”
In fact, the wireless spectrum allocated to public safety for the operation of the FirstNet network platform has already been added to hundreds of sites statewide. In addition to supporting first responders, these and other network upgrades will provide mobile broadband coverage and capacity to many underserved areas of the state, creating more access to mobile broadband for more Ohioans.
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The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Chartered in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. Learn more at FirstNet.gov/mediakit and follow FirstNet (@FirstNetGov) on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
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