Remote Woodinville, WA, is the temporary home for the National Tribal Emergency Management Council (NTEMC) FirstNet logistics center. The NTEMC last week turned on a FirstNet portable cell site (SatCOLT) to ensure connectivity for first responders working on tribal lands, according to Radio Resource Media.
“We are pleased to see that the FirstNet deployable program is connecting first responders in tribal nations as they serve on the frontlines of the COVID-19 health crisis,” said First Responder Network Authority CEO Edward Parkinson. “The FirstNet Authority remains steadfast in our commitment to providing tribal first responders across the country with a secure, reliable network built to meet the needs of their life-saving mission.”
The native population has been hard hit by COVID-19 and being able to deploy first responders and allow them to communicate over numerous jurisdictions is crucial. The Navajo Nation, for example, occupies a large sparsely inhabited landscape. Two SatCOLTs within the reservation were set up to help first responders communicate with each other in that region, and stay in contact with the NTEMC several states away.
The NTEMC, in partnership with Farmer Frog, directs food and assistance to tribal residents across 32 states. Farmer Frog is a Washington state-based inter-cultural 501c3 organization committed to “sustainable, environmentally responsible, socially conscious community based small scale farming in the urban, suburban and urban-rural interface areas,” according to their website.
“Public safety, public health and transportation agencies are coordinating in nearly unprecedented ways to respond to COVID-19,” said Washington state AT&T President Bob Bass. AT&T operates the FirstNet network. “Providing responders with dedicated communications assets was a top priority for the public-safety community when creating FirstNet. And, now it’s helping them be faster and more situationally aware on the frontlines. We couldn’t be more pleased to support the public-safety mission and bring tribal first responders greater access to the connectivity they need.”
Grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Washington State Department of Health are helping to keep the NTEMC and Farmer Frog partnership running.