GO RED solves critical communication
• Eaton County Central Dispatch building is located in a rural area with a subterranean room
• The building is comprised of dense building materials
• Lack of cellular coverage in a 3,000 square foot basement
• Cel-Fi GO RED
• Coverage in the facility for training sessions and meetings
• Confidence that it will work in emergency situations
• Hoping to use this to deploy on site in emergency situations
Formed in 1837, Eaton County, Michigan is home to approximately 110,000 people across the county’s 10 local communities. The Eaton County government provides a host of county services including a central dispatch for emergency services, which employs 25 people. Eaton County Central Dispatch (ECCD) answers all 9-1-1 calls in the county, and handles dispatch for the county’s 14 fire departments, eight law enforcement agencies, and six emergency medical services agencies. In 2018, ECCD fielded more than 94,000 calls for police, medical, and fire services.
The ECCD building is located in a rural area, with no cellular towers in close proximity. The basement-level training room was updated to serve as the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the event of a large scale emergency or threat. The room is equipped with monitors, telephone lines, and data connections. The building’s solid construction was designed to withstand a tornado – but lacked cellular connectivity.
As one of the early adopters of FirstNet, a dedicated broadband network for public safety communications, ECCD needed a solution that could provide FirstNet coverage over FirstNet-compatible devices in the EOC to enable mission-critical public safety communications – such as communicating with emergency personnel and hospital staff – as well as redundancy in case the landlines weren’t working.
“It is critical for us to maintain communication with our public safety partners on the ground in the event of an emergency so that we can dispatch the appropriate resources,” says Michael Armitage, Central Dispatch Director at ECCD.
After evaluating solutions from a number of vendors, including a trial run of one of the solutions, Armitage realized that the options weren’t nearly rugged enough to support the county’s public safety communications needs. He then engaged Cell Signal Pros, which specializes, among other things, in in-building cellular signal boosters. President Mike Heinze suggested the Cel-Fi GO RED FirstNet Booster by Nextivity. “It builds on the Cel-Fi reputation for reliability, which is not something to compromise on in these scenarios,” Heinze says.
“Cel-Fi GO RED was designed precisely to bring coverage where and when it’s needed to help keep public safety professionals connected with strong signals in emergency situations,” explains Heinze. “It amplifies FirstNet band 14, which is dedicated exclusively to FirstNet communications, and also amplifies band 12 for AT&T as a backup frequency if there is not service on band 14 deployed locally yet – which is quite common in a mobile situation – and offers better signal for non-emergency calls on the AT&T network for those who don’t have FirstNet compatible devices.”
Cell Signal Pros installed the Cel-Fi LPDA high gain donor antenna at the rear of the building, and the server antenna in the training room. The Cel-Fi GO RED unit was placed in the radio equipment room, located in the basement.
Within a matter of hours, Cel-Fi GO RED had been installed and tested, and was working as it should. “Mike and his team did a great job,” says Armitage. “The installation process was seamless.”
Although the county has not yet had to activate the EOC since the installation, Armitage and his team are confident that they will be able to communicate as needed over the FirstNet network given the coverage that now exists there. In the meantime, there is now coverage in the EOC for those who use the facility for training sessions and other meetings.
Cell Signal Pros also added an antenna to the radio manager’s office, located in the basement, making it easier for people to reach him. “This alone has been a huge benefit,” says Armitage. “We no longer have to track him down, because we know that when we call his cell phone, he’ll be able to get signal and answer our calls.”
ECCD is looking to add another Cel-Fi GO RED system to a communications unit that can be deployed to enable critical communications at an emergency site. Dispatchers will be able to dispatch appropriate resources using hand radios that are compatible with FirstNet.
“Our mission is to support Eaton County’s public safety personnel and the people they serve,” says Armitage. “With Cel-Fi GO RED, we are confident that we can do just that, when it matters most.”
- Boosts FirstNet Bands 12 and 14
- 4G / LTE Voice and Data
- Up to 15,000 ft2 (1,500 m2) of Coverage
- Indoor / Outdoor NEMA 4 Rated
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This Cel-Fi installation was undertaken by our partners, in which Cel-Fi has a global footprint in almost 100 countries. For a referral to a local expert in your area, please contact us via phone or email.