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Public safety officials discuss FirstNet case studies

Last week, the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications System Board (ISICSB), in cooperation with Connect Iowa, held an all-day, interactive workshop in Creston. It is designed to further the progress of the First Responders Network Authority (FirstNet) in Iowa. The primary purpose of these workshops is to create a regional interoperability committee (RIC).

The workshops are facilitated events that usually include the election of a chair and vice chair for the RIC and laying the groundwork for how the RIC will interface with the ISICSB. The workshop agenda also includes a series of tabletop exercises to show how FirstNet will operate to enhance the land mobile radio (LMR) system for integration as part of the overall public safety communications solution.

At the Region 4 workshop, Rob Koppert, 911 services director, Cass County 911 Communications Center, was elected chair of the region.

“The importance of reliable high speed mobile data access in the public safety arena is becoming increasingly more necessary in this world of ours, and I am extremely honored to have been elected as chair of the Regional Interoperability Committee serving 16 counties in southwest Iowa,” said Koppert. “To that end, I look forward to assisting in the implementation of FirstNet in Iowa—a public safety grade, public safety only mobile data network.” 

Also elected was Vice-Chair Doug Reed, Emergency Management director, Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Agency.

“During an emergency or disaster, communications and data networks are often overloaded,” said Reed. “Right now, public safety officials have to operate on the same networks as the public. Dependable and reliable networks are a pivotal factor in delivering rapid, efficient, and effective emergency services during times of crisis. Without a public safety network segregated from general public and commercial use, critical communications can be interrupted or delayed when it’s needed the most.”

All disciplines in public safety were represented, including emergency management, hospital/medical, public health and many more. These workshops featured real-life case studies in five breakout and discussion sessions. Scenarios included an active shooter, natural disaster and major accident or disaster, among others. This allowed the demonstration of several tools and programs, some of which were unfamiliar to various attendees. The workshop made it possible to discuss mobile applications and the use of remote-controlled devices and how they could be essential in life-saving and recovery missions.

Additional information, including the agenda for the regional workshop and upcoming locations, can be found on the board’s website: This is the fourth of six regional workshops to be held across Iowa in the coming weeks.

Prior to these workshops, Connect Iowa completed FirstNet training in all 99 Iowa counties, and the interactive workshops represent the second phase of FirstNet education efforts. 

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