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Sunday, February 5th, 2023

FirstNet proves successful in rural Virginian search and rescue exercise

© FirstNet Authority

The capabilities of first responder network FirstNet were proven in a recent exercise in a remote part of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where the network was relied on for emergency communications during a search and rescue exercise.

FirstNet cooperated with the Virginia Communications Cache, the National Capital Region Communications Interoperability Group and the Frederick County Sheriff Office, among others, to manage the situation. A FirstNet deployable — think Cells on Wheels — was set up on site to enhance communications for the duration of the exercise and helped ensure the shareability of data, as well as the success of push-to-talk efforts.

“There are places, just like right here, where you don’t have the best coverage,” Jim Junkins, Director of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Emergency Communications Center, said. “When FirstNet can come out and bring equipment and connect to a satellite and expand the cellular network — the data, the access — those are big things that make it happen pretty quick. You have the FirstNet network there.”

In the past, such services tended to come with a charge attached. FirstNet provides free resources to responders when tending to emergencies. Virginia Communications Cache incorporated the system into its network, supplementing its land-mobile radio communications.