BlogFirstNet Should No Longer be Thought of as a Future Concept

FirstNet Should No Longer be Thought of as a Future Concept

By Curt Bashford

On March 8th I was fortunate to speak alongside fellow industry professionals at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE 2018) in Orlando, Florida. Our panel, moderated by FirstNet board member Kevin McGinnis, explored new technologies and innovations available to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) first responders and hospitals. The discussion focused on FirstNet, Mobile Telemedicine, and the Internet of LifeSaving Things (IoLST), all of which are aimed at saving lives and, most significantly, all of which are available today.

A Force-Multiplier Accelerating Use Applications

My biggest take-aways from the conference are that FirstNet is a force-multiplier that is accelerating use applications and solutions that leverage the network, and that FirstNet is here today. Ahead of the band-14 public safety LTE network build-out, AT&T has accelerated the FirstNet charge by having added priority and preemption capabilities to their existing carrier network for public safety/EMS organization mobile subscribers. This is a game changer for sure and should no longer be thought of as a future concept.
From my thirty-plus years of work in the EMS-hospital communications industry and contribution to grass roots organizations like NPSTC, now more than ever I see the obvious signs that a dedicated public safety wireless broadband network is a catalyst for innovation and change. As discussed by the experts on our panel at IWCE, communications technology and healthcare are converging at a rapid pace, and identifying solutions that solve real problems for first responders and patients is exciting, even surreal. Sharing live telemedicine video from a stroke assessment between a paramedic in your home and a neurologist at the hospital is easily done today. Imagine results from field blood tests and IoLST sensors that help providers deliver appropriate care at the appropriate place.

Change Is Hard but FirstNet is Here and Now

So much is now possible, but acceptance to change is often the biggest barrier to adoption – we all know the “but we’ve always done it this way” attitude. The conference included a mix of old and new in communications technology, from land mobile radio (LMR) to FirstNet, but also included bridges and migration between them. You could sense the duality of the appeal to both early adopters and the late majority and their place on the innovation adoption curve of Rogers. Call me biased, but I for one felt that the innovation and change vibe was palpable and I am confident that we can finally say that FirstNet is here and now.
At GD, we understand that solving problems with the user in mind is the key to real value and why we deliver what we call “Responsive Innovation” solutions for hospitals and EMS public safety organizations. As the leading mobile telemedicine application provider, we have been involved with FirstNet activities solutions since before it was even called FirstNet. From launching the first US city-wide commercial EMS mobile telemedicine system in 2006, to providing a FirstNet Pilot app for the Pope’s 2015 Philadelphia visit and e-Bridge to the FirstNet App Lab in 2017, our core purpose has always been the same – To improve the health and well-being of the public at large, by providing Responsive Innovation for public safety responders and care providers. In short, helping Hospitals, EMS, MIH/CP, and Public Safety save time, money, and lives.

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