DeKalb County emergency services coordinator sees pluses in FirstNet broadband for responders
Dennis Miller, coordinator of the DeKalb County Emergency Services Disaster Agency (ESDA), is excited about the possibilities he sees the nationwide broadband First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) public safety offering.
“It’s another tool for first responders," Miller told the DeKalb Times. "It will enhance our communications and capabilities.”
The development of FirstNet was the last recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and is intended to ensure first responders like Miller have dedicated cellular bandwidth available at all times. In Illinois, the broadband data option will be solely dedicated to public safety use.
“It’s another option to use for communications in case one fails us for whatever reason,” Miller added.
The channel is slated to be rolled out across the nation in 2018, with Illinois having opted into the program just before the new year.
FirstNet supporters eagerly lay out all the ways that the program stands to keep first responders one step ahead of any potential crisis situation.
“When the Cubs won the World Series, cellular communication was basically shut down in the city of Chicago,” Kendall County Emergency Management Agency Director Joseph Gillespie recently told the Kendall County Times. “So many people trying to stream videos. So many people trying to call and show people what they were doing, send pictures and things of that nature. You’re trying to get all this stuff through a commercial network. The problem is that first responders all need to use that same infrastructure. We don’t have access to it because it’s busy. Not having a readily available system for us to jump on can be very devastating.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner recently detailed plans of the public-private partnership between First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and AT&T that will come at no cost to the state, touting it as “driving innovation and creating an entire state-of-the-art system of devices, apps and tools for first responders.”