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Louisiana, Mississippi, And Alabama Bring First Responders Closer Together As U.S. Takes Action To Contain Gulf Oil Spill And Protect The Shoreline

by: Jamie Barnett

May 7, 2010 - 04:15 PM

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States of Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as Orange, Beach, AL, Create Seamless, Interoperable Communications from the Texas Southeast Border to Pensacola, Florida

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As the crew of the MV Joe Griffin is in the Gulf of Mexico working to lower a 100-ton concrete and steel containment dome over the oil well that erupted on April 20, federal, state and local officials continue to take actions to help minimize further damage to the Gulf Coast's shorelines.

In any disaster, an effective response requires reliable, seamless and robust communications that enable all levels of government and first responders to communicate with one another and share time-sensitive information and relevant data. Information on the latest situation, the availability of resources and the capability to use those resources is critical to government's ability to continuously analyze the situation and deploy a rapid, effective and sustained response.

There are many heroes emerging from this disaster. This week we received correspondence from Benjamin Bourgoyne, Communications Section Chief for the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in the State of Louisiana. Mr. Bourgoyne informed the FCC and other federal partners that they, along with the State of Mississippi, and Orange Beach, Alabama, had taken the lead in creating an interoperable wireless communications network for states along the entire Gulf Coast, stretching from the Texas Southeast border to Pensacola, Florida. They were able to create this interoperable network by initiating a number of 700 MHz trunked public safety radio talk groups on the respective wireless information networks in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

As Mr. Bourgoyne noted, "If this is successful, it will pave the way for permanent talk groups where specially programmed land-mobile radios could be used by first responders to effectively communicate from anywhere within the network," bringing public safety officials and agencies closer together in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

This is quite an achievement, and I would like to personally thank and commend the state and local officials who led this effort for their dedication, teamwork and quick thinking in a time of crisis. It is no small task to create such a network. It is a huge effort to ensure that it is reliable and offers public safety true interoperability for voice communications.

The success of this initiative and the willingness of these officials to work together to create this multi-state interoperable network demonstrates just how valuable interoperable communications is to public safety and why it is so critically needed in disasters and emergencies. It also makes me look forward to the day when a public safety broadband wireless network, one that is truly nationwide and interoperable, will eliminate the need for the Herculean effort that was required by these tremendous professionals to ensure that they could talk to each other as they respond to this disaster.

Updated: April 16, 2012 - 12:38 PM
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