Lt. Gov. Rutherford Leads Forum on Transforming Emergency Communications with the Dedicated First Responder Network Platform
Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford talks about FirstNet and Emergency Communications in Washington County, Md.
One year after Gov. Larry Hogan approved the build out of FirstNet network platform in Maryland by AT&T, first responders in Maryland are already benefitting from enhanced emergency communications. Today, Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford led a forum on the positive impacts FirstNet has had on public safety communications in the state in the year since Maryland joined the nationwide public safety communications platform. Rutherford was joined by leadership from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), state and county officials, and AT&T* for the event at the Washington County Agricultural Center.
FirstNet is the nationwide public safety communications platform. It’s dedicated to America’s first responders and those that support them. And it’s being built with AT&T, in public-private partnership with the FirstNet Authority, to bring public safety in Maryland – and across the country – a much-needed technology upgrade to help them connect to the critical information they need.
“During times of crisis, communication is key. Our administration is committed to working with our first responders at all levels – local, state and federal – to ensure we are able to stay connected,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “We appreciate the opportunity to participate in this public-private partnership to innovate our public safety operations and keep our communities safe. The success FirstNet has seen in its first year is a shining example of what can be accomplished when we work together.”
Enhancing emergency communications
Last spring, parts of Washington County experienced extreme flooding. The emergency responses required quick and efficient coordination among first responders. FirstNet was central to the effort, according to Washington County Sheriff Doug Mullendore, whose agency was one of the first in the nation – and the first in Maryland – to subscribe to FirstNet services.
"When disaster hit, we relied on FirstNet to keep us connected. We even called in a Satellite Cell on Light Truck (SatCOLT), boosting our ability to communicate and coordinate our emergency response beyond the low bandwidth Wi-Fi some of our personnel were using,” said Mullendore. “We are pleased that Gov. Hogan approved the FirstNet state plan, opening the door for us to take advantage of this dedicated network platform to better serve Washington County, especially when our community needed it most.”
Public safety agencies subscribing to FirstNet have access to a nationwide fleet of 72 dedicated deployable network assets like the one used in Washington County. This equipment can be deployed for planned events, such as large concerts, or requested in emergencies. Thus far in 2018, the FirstNet team at AT&T has supported nearly 100 emergency and event response efforts, including the flooding responses in Washington County and Ellicott City, Md.
That’s just one way FirstNet is working for first responders in Maryland – and across the nation – according to David Buchanan, executive director of Public Safety Advocacy for the FirstNet Authority.
“Emergencies and disasters can happen in any community, and FirstNet is built with all first responders in mind – especially those serving in rural or underserved areas,” said Buchanan. “As we planned for this network platform, we worked hand-in-hand with public safety and state officials here in Maryland to design FirstNet to meet their needs. Now, one year after Maryland approved of the FirstNet plan, we are honored to be supporting the state’s public safety community, including Sheriff Mullendore and his deputies, as they serve and protect their communities.”
Reaching first responders across the state
Thousands of Maryland's first responders now rely on FirstNet for their wireless communications. This gives them enhanced security on a dedicated, physically separate network core that prioritizes their communications. And it brings FirstNet subscribers in Maryland the technology, features and functionality designed to properly handle their rigorous, specific and niche demands.
Denis Dunn, president, AT&T in Maryland, said the company has made much progress in implementing this unique public-private partnership in Maryland and nationwide.
“Thanks to great collaboration with many of the leaders across the state and locally – like here in Washington County – 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,” said Dunn.
Dunn also said that the wireless spectrum allocated to public safety for the operation of the FirstNet network platform has already been deployed to existing and new sites across the state, and it will continue to be rapidly deployed to additional sites. 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 Marylanders.
Paul Frey, president of the Washington County Chamber, said enhanced rural coverage is good news for business and community leaders.
“We’re working with Gov. Hogan and Lt. Gov. Rutherford every day to help our members – and our community – grow and prosper. When our first responders, businesses and residents have more access to mobile broadband, we all win,” said Frey.
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