An Unstoppable Communications Option for Charlotte Emergency Management

November 16, 2017
The ability to communicate seamlessly when networks become overloaded and inaccessible is critical for law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services.
The ability to communicate seamlessly when networks become overloaded and inaccessible is critical for law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services.
By Ehrin Ehlert, FirstNet Region 4 Lead (KY, NC, SC, TN)


What happens when public safety has to compete for a wireless signal with more than 77,000 fans at a Carolina Panthers football game? It’s not a win for first responders.

During big games in North Carolina and large-scale events across the country, police, fire and paramedics have to compete with the general public for a wireless signal, making connectivity difficult and putting the public at risk should an emergency arise.

“We have great coverage prior to the game starting, but once kick off occurs to the end of the game, our network slows,” says Michael Tobin, Emergency Management Coordinator for the Charlotte Fire Department.

“When they score touchdowns, the fans want to take pictures and post it,” says Charlotte Alarm Division Superintendent Greg Hauser. “And we’re trying to compete with the public’s use of broadband.” With North Carolina recently joining the FirstNet network, public safety officials across the state now have access to a dedicated, robust signal to carry out their mission during large events, emergencies, and day-to-day operations. This unfettered access to wireless spectrum will improve response times and situational awareness for public safety in both rural and urban areas, leading to safer and more secure communities.

“A FirstNet option is a very viable option for us,” says Tobin discussing the benefits of FirstNet access. “Having our very own public safety broadband network so that we can have unlimited streaming of data and not have to compete with the general public at that same time, would be a big benefit for us.”

As every emergency responder knows, the ability to communicate seamlessly is critical. “Whether it’s a technical communications unit or a COML or EMS or a law enforcement agent,” says Hauser. “If we can get them the data that they need through FirstNet, we will be unstoppable.”

 

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