The nationwide Public Service broadband network, that’s coming to public safety nationwide with the addition of the “D-Block” spectrum, will be just as important to Fire and EMS as it is to law enforcement, says Urgent Communications. The 10 MHz of D Block spectrum will be paired with 10 MHz of 700 MHz broadband that public safety already has to create a contiguous 20 MHz block. Public safety 700 MHz Narrowband frequencies, in the adjacent band, are mostly used for voice.
The network also will change the way public safety shares data, on a two-way basis, said Mike Duyck, chief of Tualatin Valley (Ore.) Fire and Rescue. Duyck has worked alongside Jeff Johnson, CEO of the Western Fire Chiefs Association and former president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, who lobbied for the D Block spectrum.
The broadband network will let firefighters-paramedics treat patients in their homes, transmit the data to a physician and then determine the best path for care This could save the healthcare industry significant money, Duyck said.
“If we have the ability to work with physicians through technology — a large bandwidth of spectrum that supports video conferencing with offsite physicians — and treat the patient at home, then deliver them to the right level of care, it will save millions of dollars,” he said.The broadband network backbone also will support applications that would then let the fire service truly become a component of the health-care system, Duyck said. A side benefit would be that a department could bill insurance companies for services to generate revenue, he said.
Many public safety officials doubt the viability of sharing with 3G and 4G wireless networks, citing possible downtime during natural disasters. Public safety claims their on-site generators provide power to radio towers over a longer period of time and are more secure.
“Technology will evolve to be more robust,” Duyck said. “Everyone will be using it and eventually [they] will be asking, ‘Why aren’t we?’”
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