FirstResponderVoice.org, an educational website from the Communications Workers of America (CWA), issued a toolkit about FirstNet to help first responders and public safety decision-makers around the country become better advocates for their community’s emergency communications needs.
“The goal of the toolkit is to educate first responders and decision makers so they can better advocate for their communities around the benefits of FirstNet,” said Bianca Garcia, CWA's FirstNet Program Coordinator. “It is crucial that first responders and community leaders are accurately informed about the nation’s first interoperable broadband network dedicated specifically to public safety.
Public safety needs to be able to communicate during emergencies without worrying about network congestion, throttling or any other issues"“Now more than ever, first responders are in need of a platform that is robust, reliable and tailored to their unique needs. Public safety needs to be able to communicate during emergencies without worrying about network congestion, throttling or any other issues. We hope that this toolkit allows first responders to get the facts on FirstNet and be able to bring those facts back to their communities.”
The Toolkit Lays Out:
- How first responders and public safety decision makers can inform their communities about FirstNet and the benefits it will bring to their public safety programs as the first interoperable LTE broadband network – including a FirstNet fact sheet, introductory PowerPoint, rates for FirstNet plans and a list of FirstNet compatible devices.
- A step-by-step look into how first responders can subscribe to FirstNet and share sign-up information with colleagues.
- Suggestions on how emergency response stakeholders – including fire department Chiefs, colleagues, city council members, volunteer first responders and other emergency-response workers—can educate one another on FirstNet.
- Additional resources and further reading for interested parties to dig deeper into the benefits of the network’s capabilities.
Greater Reliability And Extensive Interoperability
The mailer included a letter from a New York-based volunteer firefighter and CWA member about FirstNet and its promise of greater reliabilityThe toolkit builds on a recent series of advocacy efforts by FirstResponderVoice.org including ‘Intro to FirstNet’ webinars and Q&A sessions in December and informational packet mailings to over 3,700 volunteer fire departments in multiple states in November, including California, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.
The mailer included a letter from a New York-based volunteer firefighter and CWA member about FirstNet and its promise of greater reliability and extensive interoperability for first responders.
The launch of First Responder Voice’s ‘Becoming a FirstNet Community’ toolkit comes after Verizon drew criticism in major news outlets in February for running Super Bowl ads targeting first responders given recent network issues the company faced in California and Florida in 2018. The company has also been called out by stakeholders for driving misinformation about FirstNet to maintain its public-safety market share.
Impacting Crisis-Response And Emergency Services
In California, the Santa Clara County Fire District (SCCFD) Fire Chief said in August 2018 in a legal briefing that Verizon throttled the department’s data speed, negatively impacting the department’s ability to provide crisis-response and emergency services. SCCFD’s admission has led to the introduction of anti-throttling bills.
In Florida, Former Gov. Rick Scott and state CFO Jimmy Patronis called out Verizon for not restoring service after Hurricane Michael in October 2018, even as Search and Rescue and First Responder groups needed the critical infrastructure.
Resource For First Responders
CWA represents tens of thousands of AT&T workers, public-safety professionals, and first responders across the United StatesFirstResponderVoice.org is poised to be a leading resource for first responders – professional and volunteer, urban and rural – and other public-safety stakeholders, including IT directors, emergency communications coordinators, private citizens, and elected officials, to learn how communities can take full advantage of FirstNet and stay abreast of developments related to emergency communications and public safety.
FirstNet is being built, operated and maintained by AT&T, the union wireless carrier. CWA represents tens of thousands of AT&T workers, public-safety professionals, and first responders across the United States and was an active member of the Public Safety Alliance, a coalition of first responder groups that was instrumental in supporting the creation of FirstNet.
CWA also represents the growing workforce of customer care agents in Cerritos, California and Greensboro, North Carolina who are trained to handle FirstNet customer service calls from first responders.