Eagle County Public Safety Agencies Transform First Responder Communications with FirstNet®

Around the Region

VAIL, Colo. — The Vail Police Department, Gypsum Fire Protection District and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office are connecting our first responders to FirstNet® – the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. With this tech advancement, we can equip our first responders with new capabilities and reliable access to critical information while in the field. That allows us to better serve those who live, work and visit both the high alpine and high desert regions of Eagle County.

FirstNet is designed to improve communications across public safety entities nationwide, allowing first responders to communicate with one another easily and quickly during everyday situations, big events or emergencies. This is integral to solving the common roadblock that communications issues have posed in past public safety responses.

First responders in Eagle County are using FirstNet on their department-issued smartphones and in their vehicles, routers, and frontline apparatuses.

“We knew that with our limited fire, police and paramedic staff, we needed to be very well organized,” said Dwight Henninger, Chief of Police, Vail, Colorado. “The biggest benefit for the entire county is our ability to communicate with other agencies and each other in a world-class environment. If FirstNet can work in our little mountain community, it can work anywhere.”

After testing FirstNet’s technology during an international skiing competition in Vail and Beaver Creek in February 2015, agencies began adopting FirstNet throughout the county. In 2020, FirstNet’s single point of service and dedicated Band 14 spectrum was critical in keeping communications open for the Gypsum Fire Protection District during the Grizzly Creek Fire. When the fire came close to Interstate 70 and resulted in a 13-day closure of the highway, FirstNet’s network kept firefighters connected to keep residents safe.

“We are a classic rural fire department,” said Justin Kirkland, Chief of Gypsum Fire Protection District. “We cover 455 square miles and although we are the largest land fire department district, we have the smallest budget. We have to find efficiencies and systems that work without a lot of user intervention. With FirstNet, we are able to have a single point of service that covers all of our needs.”

Vail Police Department, Gypsum Fire Protection District and Eagle County Sheriff have since joined FirstNet to provide our first responders with reliable, modern communications tools needed to perform at our best, including:

  • One, nationwide communications platform that allows us to coordinate emergency responses efficiently and effectively across agencies and jurisdictions.
  • Always-on priority and preemption to give us reliable access to the connection we need – even when the network is congested.
  • A separate, dedicated and highly secure network core purpose-built for public safety’s sensitive communications.
  • Planned increases in coverage and capacity, enabling us to better respond to emergencies in Eagle County – and across the state.
  • Innovative tools – like relevant applications and connected devices – to give us more actionable information for heightened situational awareness.

“After having the opportunity to see what FirstNet offered, our agencies started moving toward it because of the network’s reliability, connectivity and security,” said Kevin Kromer, Deputy, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. “Even though we are in a rural area, we have all the same services and technologies that any agency is going to use. We need to know that those lines of communication are going to be open and secure.”

FirstNet, built with AT&T, is a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority). It’s designed with and for public safety.

“We’re honored that the Vail Police Department, Gypsum Fire Protection District and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office chose FirstNet to elevate their communications capabilities,” said Roberta Robinette, President AT&T Colorado. “It’s our mission to give first responders the cutting-edge tools they need to safely and effectively achieve their mission. FirstNet will help first responders in Eagle County and across the country perform at the highest levels to keep themselves and those they serve out of harm’s way.”

“FirstNet is the exclusive communications platform being built with AT&T for public safety, inspired by public safety. There is no substitution for this purpose-built network,” said FirstNet Authority CEO Edward Parkinson. “We look forward to supporting the Vail Police Department, Gypsum Fire Protection District, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Colorado’s public safety community with FirstNet, making sure it delivers what they need, when they need it.”

Video: FirstNet is helping Eagle County first responders connect. Video: FirstNet is helping Gypsum Fire Protection District use smart technology.

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