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How First Responders Can Prepare for FirstNet

America’s first responders-EMS, fire, and law enforcement-have been eagerly awaiting the rollout of FirstNet, a nationwide, high-speed broadband network dedicated to first responders. FirstNet offers the next generation of communication capabilities for EMS services who, up until now, have been using 800 MHz LMR and dedicated frequencies to respond to calls.

Why FirstNet?

Currently, available cellular bandwidths often can’t handle video and other data that modern police, fire and EMS providers need to respond effectively. Also, coordinating communication with other public safety agencies can be difficult during large-scale disasters or at major public events.

FirstNet solutions will make all emergency providers more effective, more efficient and more connected than ever before. In addition to providing real-time information where and when you need it, first responders are considered “primary users” of the network. That means first responder connectivity will always be switched automatically to first priority without dispatch or any agency having to take any additional steps. In case the cellular network does experiencing congestion, FirstNet will preempt commercial users to allow first responders to always have the capacity.

FirstNet is already rolling out

FirstNet Core and FirstNet services on existing AT&T LTE network are available today. Customers will need a FirstNet SIM in the device to work. Testing has already begun on the initial phases of the FirstNet public radio spectrum (band 14) that extends coverage into rural areas and into highly congested areas with radio spectrum access problems. And the FirstNet core service has also been tested for its ability to preempt and prioritize for primary users.

Matt Zavadsky, Chief Strategic Integration Officer with MedStar Mobile Healthcare in Fort Worth and MIA advisor to JEMS, reports that since the Medstar Executive Team moved their cell phones over to the FirstNet system they have not had one dropped call, an impressive early test of the system.

Are you ready for FirstNet?

FirstNet is here today and promises the ability to provide priority, preemption and interoperability with enhanced push-to-talk and land mobile radios. It will also provide first responders with innova­tion and robust capacity so they can take advantage of advanced technologies, tools and services during emergencies, such as:

  • Applications that allow first responders to reliably share videos, text messages, photos and other informa­tion during incidents in near real-time;
  • Advanced capabilities, like camera-equipped connected drones and robots, to deliver images of wildfires, floods or other events;
  • Improved location services to help with mapping capabilities during rescue and recovery operations; and
  • Wearables that could relay biometric data of a patient to the hospital or alert when a fire fighter is in distress.

Work with a trusted partner: Panasonic

Working with a trusted partner like Panasonic, a recognized mobile solutions provider and FirstNet master dealer can help you understand what you need to do to prepare your agency. Many emergency services already use Panasonic Toughbook® rugged laptops, tablets and handhelds, relying on the industry-leading reliability and durability of their devices. Panasonic has the tools and resources to help current and prospective Toughbook customers get up and running on FirstNet.

Mary Beth Hall, Panasonic director of wireless strategy says “Our teams are set up to help you with your transition plan as you think about what’s next as you get ready for FirstNet.” And Jo Satili, Panasonic national sales manager, public sector emphasizes that “It’s important that we talk to our customers now, because during the process their needs are going to change and the requirements are going to change.”

Panasonic field service engineers are already helping customers plan and transition their devices to a FirstNet strategy. Current Panasonic LTE products are compatible with FirstNet rate plans, so customers can start using those preemption and priority capabilities right away. As a mobile solutions provider, Panasonic creates a seamless link between hardware, robust applications for first responders, services, and support to perform your FirstNet activations.

Experienced EMS, fire and law enforcement personnel and command officers know that there are two things that help us succeed in every incident case; first is preparation and knowledge; the second is help and assistance from trusted reliable and qualified partners. Panasonic is stepping forward as a trusted partner who will give you answers as you plan for FirstNet. 

To find out more about how Panasonic can help first responders, visit the Knowledge Center or our Mobility Blog.