FirstNet: A broadband network for first responders
BAR HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - FirstNet is a national broadband network with exclusive priority for public safety workers and first responders.
There are more than 450 cell sites that support FirstNet in Maine alone. Back in March, FirstNet deployed a mobile satellite cell tower to Bar Harbor, and boosters to MDI Hospital, to maintain emergency communications for all first responders during the expected influx of COVID-19 patients. The hospital says it now has incredible cell service in its emergency room and other vital areas of the hospital.
“To have that connectivity and to know that we have that additional wrap-around service has been very impactful and positive,” said Chrissi Maguire, MDI Hospital President and CEO.
The FirstNet network is a creation that came from lessons learned on 9/11, when communication networks became unusable for first responders due to overload.
“Congress created some funding and also the FirstNet authority,” said Owen Smith, President of AT&T for the state of Maine. “AT&T has been working in all fifty states and six territories to build out this nationwide network for public safety.”
FirstNet Authority’s partnership with AT&T has allowed first responders to get more information quickly and helped them make faster and better decisions.
“A provider to a provider talking is priority one, so they really look at that traffic, prioritize health care traffic and first responders traffic,” Maguire said. “That’s what makes the tool so powerful.”
“The Ellsworth Fire Department could communicate with the Bar Harbor Fire Department, or EMS,” Smith added. “So, if you’re a FirstNet subscriber, it doesn’t matter what department you’re with. If you’re flown in here from California to fight a forest fire in Northern Maine, you would have communications among other FirstNet subscribers.”
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