The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of new challenges to the forefront. It increased the…
Ford County, Kansas sits in the middle of the country and covers a mere 1,100 square miles. With just under 40,000 residents, it’s a community with a “small town” feel. Marked mostly by agricultural land, the county also has deep canyons and valleys that hinder reliable communication. In fact, The Atlantic ranked its county seat of Dodge City as the third most isolated city of its size in the country.
This varied terrain creates coverage problems for first responders. That’s especially true in remote areas of the county. And with the closest large city or town at least 2 to 3 hours away in any direction, Ford County needs reliable communication. That’s why the Ford County Fire and EMS Department, Ford County Sheriff’s Office and Ford County Emergency Management decided to join firstnet®.
“The risks we face are that we’re a long way away from anybody to come help us,” said Michael Brown, Deputy Director of Ford County Communications. “So, we have to find something that is reliable that we can deploy immediately. That way we’re not putting the lives of our dispatchers, the public citizens and our first responders at risk.”
Rob Boyd, Chief of Fire and EMS for Ford County, said the varied terrain creates challenges for the fire department.
“We have a lot of large, wide-open agricultural land,” Rob said. “With a 40 mile-per-hour wind pushing a fire across there, we have to be able to communicate and set our tactics together, so that we can put it out without losing anybody or property.”
The department has been using firstnet-enabled drones to stream live footage from fires to the chief’s phone or computer. This way, he can accurately direct his firefighters to hotspots they can’t see on the ground, saving taxpayers’ money and preventing or minimizing further damage.