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Connecting First Responders in Rural Minnesota

​Emergencies have no boundaries. They can happen anytime and anywhere. That is why FirstNet’s wireless broadband service has a goal of connecting first responders no matter the location. This includes the remote 547-mile border between Minnesota and Canada as well as our state’s rural lake communities where so many people recreate. FirstNet’s coverage plan includes high power towers that can cover more real estate as well as satellite solutions. The network is currently working with future users, including Minnesota, to address rural communication needs and current concerns about lack of coverage.

Read how FirstNet will help public safety personnel save lives and secure communities in rural Minnesota.


A superhighway with life-saving capabilities

We all know what it’s like to drive down a highway. Now imagine the highway as the internet. Imagine you’re speeding along at 55 miles-per-hour when an emergency happens. The FirstNet wireless broadband network would give first responders first priority to the internet when there is a threat to public safety. Right now, staff members with Minnesota’s Emergency Communication Networks along with our partners in FEMA Region V are coming up with a framework of service for FirstNet. They are considering things like first responder roles, scope of emergencies and types of use. Read more about a FirstNet framework on our Department of Public Safety blog.

Communicating during a Full Scale Exercise

ARMER at Stevens County Full Scale Exercise

Part of responding to an emergency includes communicating important details between responding agencies while in the field. That is where Minnesota’s ARMER system (Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response) comes into play.

Many people are familiar with the radios that first responders carry. Those radios and their communication system were recently put to the test during a drill that simulated an oil train derailment in Stevens County. Emergency Communication Networks and its partners practiced setting up a trailer-mounted radio tower which allowed  more than 450 participants to send and receive important messages. The Emergency Communication Networks and Homeland Security and Emergency Management divisions will use lessons learned from this exercise to plan and prepare for a real emergency.