County first in state to adopt new emergency communications system

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George “Beau” Crowding, Deputy Director for Fire Services,Chester County Department of Emergency Services, Chief Shane Clark, President, Chester County Chiefs of Police Assoc., John Jannett, AT&T, Meredith Coffey, AT&T, James Rogan, AT&T, Guerdy Charles, AT&T, Chaz Brogan, Vice President, Chester County EMS Council, Inc., Bob Handal, AT&T, Commissioner Michelle Kichline, Director Bobby Kagel, Chester County Department of Emergency Services, Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, Jeff King, AT&T, Rob Wall, AT&T, Pablo Adam, AT&T, Commissioner Terence Farrell

WEST CHESTER — With citizen safety as a major priority, the Chester County Commissioners were briefed last week on the county’s new link with FirstNet, a lifesaving communications platform built specifically for first responders. Making the announcement at the Commissioners’ Sunshine Meeting work session, Department of Emergency Services (DES) Director Bobby Kagel noted that, as the first county in the Commonwealth to subscribe, Chester County’s police, fire and EMS responders will more quickly and easily connect to the critical information they need, even during times of major regional events when mobile networks are congested.

Built with AT&T in partnership with the First Responder Network Authority, FirstNet gives communications capabilities a major boost, providing a reliable, highly secure and “always on” communication.

“It remains our priority to keep the people and property of Chester County safe,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline. “FirstNet will help facilitate greater coordination and collaboration from dispatch to the actual incident scene and beyond, allowing us to better serve the community.”

“With the major investments that we’ve made in recent years, including the development of the Public Safety Training Campus, the move to a new emergency voice radio system, and the installation of mobile CAD units in emergency response vehicles, it makes sense to capitalize on this with the addition of the FirstNet connectivity,” noted County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone.

Last year, Chester County DES worked with AT&T to upgrade 650 emergency response vehicles. Each vehicle was equipped with an advanced mobile gateway that put the power of information into first responders’ hands. “By moving the in-vehicle systems over to the FirstNet platform we are able to take our communications capabilities to a new level, bringing more efficiency and effectiveness to our fire, police and EMS personnel, giving them opportunities to instantly receive updates, access to records management systems from the field, and to manage dispatch based on the closest units available,” added County Commissioner Terence Farrell.

FirstNet is the only communication platform that gives first responders priority and preemption. “The Commissioners commitment to public safety is evidenced by providing Chester County’s emergency responders with state-of-the-art technology and facilities so they are better equipped to meet the needs of our citizens. Being the first to join FirstNet in Pennsylvania, providing nationwide interoperability, priority, and preemption to our emergency responders, is another example of this commitment,” said Bobby Kagel.

“We’re honored that Chester County DES chose FirstNet to further elevate their communications capabilities,” said J. Michael Schweder, president, AT&T Mid-Atlantic States. “It’s our mission to give first responders the cutting-edge tools they need to keep themselves and those they serve out of harm’s way. And we look forward to helping Chester County’s first responders achieve their life-saving missions.”

“FirstNet is the exclusive communications platform built with AT&T for public safety, inspired by public safety – there is no substitution for this network that they fought for,” said First Responder Network Authority CEO Mike Poth. “We look forward to supporting the Chester County’s use of FirstNet, making sure it delivers what they need, when they need it.”

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