Bolstering storm readiness with new maritime and public safety solutions

by Corey Anthony - Senior Vice President, Engineering and Operations, AT&T

June 6, 2024

Just a few weeks into storm season and it’s already been an active start.  During this time, the essential need for dependable connectivity becomes especially clear. This is what motivates us to ensure our FirstNet® Response Operations Group (ROG) and Network Disaster Response (NDR) teams have the necessary training and resources to respond to any emergency.

With forecasts from our dedicated meteorologists at the AT&T Weather Operations Center predicting an above-average storm season, we're employing new assets and solutions. Our goal is to keep communities connected throughout the storms. While Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate, our new equipment and solutions will help communities recover safer and faster when she does strike.

Innovating disaster response

Past hurricane seasons serve as a reminder of the need for constant innovation. After learning from the team’s experience delivering FirstNet solutions to Sanibel and Pine islands during Hurricane Ian, we’ve introduced a game-changing, 45-foot custom-built landing craft to our maritime fleet. This craft can transport pickup trucks, FirstNet Compact Rapid Deployables (CRDs), and other essential solutions.

The landing craft also enhances self-sufficiency and reduces our reliance on local communities. This is critically important when resources are already constrained. This vessel, alongside the rest of the maritime fleet, is part of the more than 750 pieces of specialized response equipment that traverse land, sea and air and can quickly deploy before, during and after any storm.

Supporting public safety

As America’s public safety network,  FirstNet, Built with AT&T is focused on reliably connecting first responders in any emergency and disaster. FirstNet ROG – led by former first responders – works in tandem with the AT&T NDR team to help ensure recovery assets will be where they are needed the most. Agencies on FirstNet have access to their own dedicated nationwide fleet of more than 180 portable network assets, and the benefit of AT&T NDR assets like the new landing craft.

This year, ROG has deployed over 500 solutions in response to incidents and disasters. From last year’s Hurricane Idalia and Hawaii wildfires to the most recent disasters like the Texas Panhandle Fires and the storms in Houston, there is no major disaster or event in this country where FirstNet is not playing a role.

“After Hurricane Idalia, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office provided additional support to our neighboring counties in Florida. When our folks needed a boost for our cellular service, FirstNet delivered,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. “The team did an outstanding job getting us up on the network, which allowed us to support the area in a time of great need. FirstNet is a great partner to public safety and to Citrus County during any hurricane or natural disaster.”

We’ve also recently made critical updates to FirstNet Push-to-Talk  and FirstNet Messaging, introducing new features such as discreet listening and enhanced group and interagency coordination. These improvements are designed to strengthen communication among first responders during any circumstance. 

“We support our nation’s first responders around the clock with a focus on enhancing public safety’s ability to communicate and safely provide emergency response,” said Jim Bugel, President, FirstNet Program at AT&T. “Through our public-private partnership, public safety has access to their own dedicated fleet of assets and experts as well as industry-leading equipment from AT&T NDR when needed – all at no additional charge. It’s just one more way we provide an unprecedented level of support to help first responders stay mission ready.”

Additionally, this past February, the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) announced a series of strategic investments that will deliver more coverage, capabilities and capacity for first responders — helping them keep themselves and our communities safe.  

Living our purpose

Our ROG and NDR team members are at the heart of every deployment, expertly managing every situation. Each team member truly lives and breathes our purpose.

The innate ability of the ROG and NDR teams to adapt and innovate is what allows us to respond effectively and support public safety when they need it the most. Whether you’re facing hurricanes, wildfires, blizzards, tornadoes, or any other emergency, we’re here to help you keep communities safe.

Additional Resources:

  • Agencies on FirstNet can request additional support during events, everyday emergencies and disasters by calling 1-800-574-7000 or submitting a request online via FirstNet Central.
  • Individuals not already on FirstNet can learn more at and subscribe to FirstNet at a local AT&T store.
  • We recognize the mental, emotional and physical toll disasters can have on first responders. Agencies on FirstNet can request one of our ROG the Dog therapy animals at no additional charge to support the well-being of those on the front line.