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Leveraging FirstNet PTT for First Responders in Small Communities

Lindsay Stromgren  (Assistant Fire Chief, Amherst MA Fire Department)

Location: W230A

Date: Monday, March 25

Time: 5:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Track: State & Local Government, First Responder Communications

Topic: FirstNet, Interoperability, LMR, PTT

Format: Power Session

Vault Recording: TBD

Hear a case study of how FirstNet PTT is being used for an alternative policing agency in a small suburban community. Creating a communications system for a new First Responder Agency is no easy task. In June of 2021 the town of Amherst, Massachusetts, was faced with this task. In response to anti-police sentiments sweeping the country, the town council charged the town administrator with starting an alternative policing agency of community responders within one year. This created numerous logistical and financial hurdles, including how communications would be handled for the community responders since neither existing police or fire LMR systems could handle a third agency. FirstNet PTT devices were selected as the solution for the new agency. The PTT devices combined with a dispatch solution for the PSAP, offers a very functional and cost-effective solution for the Community Responders. In addition to serving the needs of the Community Responders, the FirstNet PTT solution is a force multiplier for both the police and Fire/EMS departments as it gives true interoperability amongst all three responding agencies, including an easily deployable system for use in an EOC, and combined with a PTT/LMR gateway fills coverage gaps in the response area.

Key takeaways include the difficulties faced with establishing communications for a new first responder agency from scratch, how FirstNet PTT enabled the community responders, police, and Fire/EMS to have interoperability, and how FirstNet PTT/LMR filled coverage gaps in the existing police and fire LMR systems.