New app created to help first responders during emergencies

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New technology will help Fresno county first responders better coordinate their efforts during emergencies. (KFSN)

New technology will help Fresno county first responders better coordinate their efforts during emergencies.

During massive wildfires and earthquakes, the ability to coordinate between several agencies can pose significant challenges.

But Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims says AT&T's FirstNet system will improve communication between different agencies.

Mims explained, "For instance with 9/11, Katrina, you had public safety showing up from all over the nation and the problem was we can't talk to each other."



Sheriff Mims was joined by several law enforcement leaders at the Clovis Police Department to announce Fresno County is the first in California to adopt FirstNet.

The idea was born out of the 9/11 tragedy. AT&T Vice-president of external affairs Marc Blakeman said, "One of the key learnings was the fact that agencies couldn't talk to one another. Firefighters couldn't talk to police and police couldn't talk to ambulance services and whatnot."

Cellphone networks often become overloaded during disasters with so many people trying to make calls.

FirstNet does not operate on a standard consumer line, allowing AT&T to keep an open line of communication for emergency responders.

Kevin Nida of the First Responder Network Authority said, "This system is designed to survive natural disasters. It essentially prioritizes data."

Fresno County will need to pay for new devices. Mims says AT&T plans to build new towers to enhance coverage, especially in rural areas.
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