Rescue squad interoperable communications

FirstNet partners with medical center for rural emergency response

Residents in rural Mississippi will soon be able to get telemedicine services from first responders during a disaster, thanks to an agreement between FirstNet and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

FirstNet, the nationwide wireless broadband public-safety network, will support UMMC's extensive telehealth network by bringing high-speed communications to rural parts of the state to power remote medical applications in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency.

Delivering emergency medical services in rural areas is problematic because once responders go out of cellular service areas, they can't effectively communicate with hospitals and physicians. With high-speed broadband, responders can send medical information to doctors, giving them a better idea of the status of patients so they can advise appropriate care in an emergency. 

Besides driving innovation for emergency medicine and response, FirstNet and UMMC will share case studies and best practices related to public safety’s use of mobile broadband in rural areas.

The agreement with UMMC represents the first step toward establishing the FirstNet's University Program under which it will work with universities with expertise in different aspects of public safety communications to enhance the network and educate public safety employees on how best to use cutting-edge technologies.

The FirstNet board also announced plans to develop a roadmap to guide network enhancements.  It  will be based on feedback from the public safety community and incorporate industry trends through market research and outreach to the private sector, academia and industry associations, officials said.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at smiller@gcn.com or @sjaymiller.

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