New broadband service helping first responders in the Black Hills

Its biggest strength, providing broadband connection to first responders in areas they wouldn't get with a normal provider.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — When it comes to an emergency situation, specially when someone’s life is on the line, first responders don’t have luxury of time.

Firstnet EmIn those situations, a key difference is the area and communication among first responders.

Enter in FirstNet, made by AT&T, a separate network provider and communication system specially made for emergency personnel.

“They went live nationwide in the January 2018 timeframe and my office I think was the second account in South Dakota. So we jumped on that bandwagon as soon as it was available for us to sign up for,” said Dustin Willett, director of emergency management for Rapid City and Pennington County.

Since then, Willett says that FirstNet has been a difference maker for first responders in the Black Hills.

Its biggest strength, providing broadband connection to first responders in areas they wouldn’t get with a normal provider.

“We get broadband communication in places where we typically would not have broadband communication because it’s not based on a commercial customer model. It’s based on providing coverage for first responders,” Willett said.

These features used in searches for missing persons like Larry Genzlinger and Serenity Dennard, where first responders had quality broadband communication.

But the coverage isn’t the only advantage of FirstNet for first responders.

First priority and preemption allow the first responders calls to be placed first and if necessary boot commercial users off the system.

It’s a one-of-a-kind system that’s helping communication among first responders.

“There’s no other option, and the FirstNet authority and FirstNet will bring a deployable (operator) within an hour, so that’s again, that’s huge. That’s a great example of ‘how do we save lives?’ Well, we establish cellular communications in places where there just aren’t any,” Willett said.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News