Columbia first responders now using ‘FirstNet,’ a public safety communications platform

Columbia has partnered with FirstNet, a nationwide public safety broadband platform that's powered by AT&T.

 

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — A new communications technology is helping first responders in the City of Columbia. Columbia has partnered with FirstNet, a nationwide public safety broadband platform that’s powered by AT&T.

“This technology platform will better allow us to help save lives,” said Columbia Police Deputy Chief Melron Kelly.

Columbia is the largest FirstNet deployment in South Carolina.

“Across the country today, more than 9,000 public service agencies are subscribed to FirstNet with more than 750,000 connections. And we are thrilled that Columbia’s first responders are a part of that,” said Terrance Ford, Director of Legislative Affairs for S.C. AT&T.

FirstNet is a network built for public safety officials, by public safety officials.

“Public safety individuals got together after 9/11. After that tragedy there, and the ability to not be able to communicate, they realized they need their own network,” said Gerald Risner, Senior Public Safety Advisor with FirstNet.

“In the event of a significant natural disaster, or man-made disaster, it gives priority to first responders immediately,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.

The platform will allow first responders to have no issues communicating when cell service is overloaded, like during University of South Carolina football games.

“Which is very important in our work, to be able to communicate. So it’s going to be a very good system for us to be on,” said Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins.

It’s a good system for the men and women working to serve and protect the public.

“Their jobs day to day haven’t changed, but the technology has. The FirstNet network is here with the technology that helps them do their jobs a little faster, and a little bit easier,” said Risner.

More than 1,300 devices for first responders throughout the city of Columbia are now connected to FirstNet.

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