FirstNet Coverage, Apps, Devices Help Agencies Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic
Friday, March 27, 2020 | Comments

AT&T outlined initiatives to help First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) subscribers respond during the COVID-19 pandemic. The carrier is adding coverage and devices where needed, and FirstNet apps are helping agencies better address response to the national emergency.

In Northern California, a medical center contacted FirstNet for device and network support. AT&T deployed a FirstNet cell on wheels (COW) to provide additional capacity and keep emergency personnel connected. The carrier sent FirstNet Ready devices to support critical care physicians and ER nurses, as well as remote workers and noncritical staff.

In the Northeast, one of the hardest hit areas of the country, AT&T deployed a FirstNet portable cell site and other devices to support a drive-through testing facility. The public-safety and emergency management teams were concerned about maintaining reliable communications when thousands of citizens arrive for testing. Medical professionals and first responders can interoperate across federal, state and local agencies, and are not competing with consumer smartphones and tablets for bandwidth in the drive-through facility.

In Texas, public safety requested FirstNet network support for a quarantine center at a military base. While there was quality coverage outside of the quarantine center, service was minimal within the quarantine zone. The FirstNet team at AT&T deployed a new in-building emergency solution to support dozens of first responders.

“It's amazing to see and hear about the selfless sacrifices made every day by these public servants — the first responders, medical professionals and more who tirelessly serve our communities,” said Jason Porter, senior vice president, FirstNet Program at AT&T, in a blog. “I’m humbled by the role our company plays in serving these heroes, and I plan to share many more stories of the women and men supporting the incredible work of medical professionals and first responders at quarantine sites, trauma centers, and other areas throughout this great country.”

In addition, FirstNet subscribers are using applications from the FirstNet App Catalog to combat the coronavirus. The catalog identifies more than 100 highly secure apps tested for public safety that can help cost effectively enhance their situational awareness and other capabilities.

An EMS agency in Connecticut is using the Response for FirstNet app from Intrepid Networks for day-to-day operations and incident response management. With the app, the agency rapidly manages daily operations, segregates specific response operations for weather-related events, segregates data from training operations and communicates accurate information to all its responders.

The agency created a specific channel dedicated to COVID-19 related information. This information includes status updates on the spread of the virus, best practices to keep medics safe while responding to calls, and information relating to the acquisition of specific equipment related to COVID-19 issues.

The General Devices e-Bridge mobile telemedicine app has highly secure video telehealth and a COVID-19 Virus Screening module. This makes it possible for EMS and hospital providers to consult, assess and manage patients remotely to protect personnel and limit exposure. FirstNet customers Baystate Health in Massachusetts and AtlantiCare in New Jersey are using the GD e-Bridge telehealth video and screening module as part of their COVID-19 response and management. Pulsara allows networked communications across an entire community, including live video and messaging, and is providing its app at no charge to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. Regions across the U.S. are enabling Pulsara to help mitigate patient surges, limit transfers to clinically appropriate cases, minimize exposure to other patients and clinicians, conserve scarce personal protective equipment (PPE) and secure communication for outpatients in isolation (quarantine).

A sheriff’s office in southcentral Texas is using FirstNet and the 10-21 Police Phone app by Callyo for its COVID-19 response. The 10-21 Police Phone app allows officers and deputies to place free phone calls to citizens using an unblocked number, thus more likely making them more likely to be answered. It also protects the officer’s existing number, allows officers to connect citizens to dispatch when off-duty and can provide push notifications when called back. This is aiding the sheriff’s deputies by giving them easy access to contact citizens and manage nonemergency situations.

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