First Net gives first responders a communication 'fast lane'

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When first responders need us to get out of their way, they flip on the lights and sirens. If only it were so easy when first responders' lines of communication get jammed.

Near Worthington, Sharon Township Police Chief Donald Schwind says it simply shouldn't happen.

"That communication is of vital importance to us," said Chief Schwind.

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He said trying to send a text message in Ohio Stadium on game day is a classic example of failed communication attempts.

"You can't get out on your cell phones. No one can. We will be able to do that," said Scwhind.

Located near Worthington, Sharon Township is the first Central Ohio police department to sign up for AT&T'S First Net Network. The system puts messages and calls from first responders on a dedicated, and uncrowded, wireless spectrum band.

It makes good on a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission over a decade ago that documented first responder communication failures during rescue operations. First Net also boasts advanced capabilities like camera-connected drones to deliver images of wildfires and floods.

It also means first responders can quickly share photos and videos to responding back up. Police said those images can be crucial when making split-second decisions that could affect the outcome of a crisis.

"Our goal is to safeguard our communities and respond quickly and accurately and get people out of the danger zone," said Chief Schwind. Thousands of Ohio's first responders now rely on First Net for their wireless communications, including the Franklin County Office of Homeland Security, the

Perry Township Police Department near Dublin, and the South Bloomfield Police Department in Pickaway County.