When seconds count, the Village of University Park counts on FirstNet

Image of John Pate
John Pate
Director of Public Safety for the Village of University Park, IL
Image of When seconds count, the Illinois Village of University Park counts on FirstNet

As a first responder, it’s hard to put into words the frustration I feel when communication goes down. In my industry, connection problems aren’t just frustrating. They can be deadly. Information holds the power to save lives. So, if I don’t know what’s happening, no amount of training in the world is going to help us diffuse a threat or save a life.

Unreliable technology and the lack of interoperability between agencies create gaps in information needed to make critical, split-second decisions. As the director of public safety of the Village of University Park, it’s my job to fill those gaps. And that’s why we signed on to FirstNet.

The Village of University Park straddles Cook and Will counties, which highlights a unique situation we face every day. We must be able to communicate any public safety concerns with several city and state partners. Without an efficient tool for communication between agencies, even our best response efforts face handicaps.

In 2015, Governors State University experienced a bomb threat. Our police department – along with the local SWAT team, ATF and FBI bomb squad – assisted campus police. With so many first responders present, we had problems with radio traffic. And we lacked redundant communication. This loss of communication put both the public and first responders in danger.

That’s another reason we chose FirstNet – so we could have communication options between agencies. We enhanced our LMR communication with data and video to provide responders the most comprehensive communication.

FirstNet allows each of our agencies to communicate with each other in real-time. We can now make those split-second decisions based on the most up-to-date information from every agency. This results in greater safety for the public and first responders. That consistent access to voice, data and video gives us the confidence we need to make the right choices in a crisis.

We need to have the best tools available to keep our community safe. And it’s my job to ensure that we do. With FirstNet, I know we’ll have access to our own highly reliable and secure network – so we can communicate seamlessly at times of disaster. This is going to help us keep our communities safe. Because at the end of the day, we all want to be able to go home to our families.

Editor’s Note: John Pate is director of public safety for the Village of University Park, Ill., which recently signed on to FirstNet for its police, fire and EMS services.

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