FirstNet provides Atmos Energy vital support in aftermath of Hurricane Laura
In the midst of one of the worst hurricane seasons on record, COVID-19 and other natural disasters, like wildfires this summer and tornadoes earlier this year, even the best emergency response plans are put to the test. But FirstNet has one mission: serve America’s first responders and the extended public safety community that supports them during their life-saving missions.
During Hurricane Laura last month, the public safety community from across the region came together to respond. Many were already on FirstNet, including Atmos Energy Corp. – the largest natural-gas-only distributor in the U.S. Due to Atmos Energy’s commitment to safety, especially when dealing with potential emergencies or working to restore service after a disaster, the company subscribed to FirstNet in 2019.
When disasters occur, Atmos Energy’s emergency dispatch and personnel work closely with firefighters and other first responders. Recognizing the public safety concerns and coordination required, FirstNet is pivotal to the safety of Atmos Energy employees and the more than 3 million people (in 1,400 communities across 8 states) they serve.
FirstNet stands above commercial offerings, combining the capabilities public safety needs with the affordability they require. After Hurricane Laura impacted some of Atmos
Energy’s operations in Louisiana, the FirstNet team at AT&T jumped into action to make sure Atmos Energy Louisiana Division President Jennifer Ries and her personnel had the right connectivity toolset to respond to the disaster. And since FirstNet is built specifically for public safety, it delivers an experience unlike any other.
This includes features like always on priority across voice and data, which provides protection against commercial traffic congestion. It’s like giving public safety communications the “lights and sirens” treatment. When you see or hear an emergency vehicle coming, you get out of the way, so they can quickly get to those in need. This follows that same approach, just on the communications highway.
Before, during and after the storm, the FirstNet team was very responsive in helping Atmos Energy identify front-line personnel's smartphones to uplift their priority service. Having prioritized cell service on FirstNet helped the Atmos Energy leadership team in Louisiana as it coordinated its restoration efforts with local leaders and first responders in the aftermath of the destruction caused by the hurricane.
FirstNet has quickly become both an economically beneficial service as a well as a key
component of our Business Continuity Planning toolset for Atmos Energy – ultimately helping to better serve our customers and keep our communities safer. It’s been a game changer for us – and when the next emergency strikes, we can trust the FirstNet team to be there.
FirstNet is built with AT&T in public-private partnership with the First Responder
Network Authority. It’s designed with and for public safety to improve communications across public safety entities nationwide. And it allows first responders and those who support them to easily and quickly communicate with one another during everyday situations, big events or emergencies. This is integral to solving the common roadblock that communications issues have posed on past public safety responses.
Rich Gius is the Chief Information Officer for Atmos Energy, based in Dallas. Atmos Energy serves over 3 million customers in over 1,400 communities. Stacy Schwartz is the vice president for the FirstNet Program at AT&T, responsible for the FirstNet sales organization.