Indian Gaming Association, FirstNet Authority and FirstNet program at AT&T launch collaborative effort to promote best practices for public safety communications and coordination on FirstNet®

May 25, 2022

by AT&T

FirstNet adoption within Tribal Gaming Enterprises in Indian Country to transform security, collaboration with first responders and emergency response operations to help keep the community safe

Washington, DC – The Indian Gaming Association is working with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) and the FirstNet Program at AT&T to raise awareness among its members about the benefits of FirstNet®. The inter-tribal association, which focuses on economic self-sufficiency through gaming and community development, would like to raise awareness about the impact FirstNet can have on public safety communications throughout Indian Country. 

“With tens of millions of visitors at Indian gaming enterprises each year, the need for dedicated, interoperable connectivity for public safety personnel and those supporting emergency response is critical to further enhance security and emergency operations throughout Indian Country,” said Ernie Stevens Jr., Chairman and National Spokesperson for the Indian Gaming Association. “Tribal gaming facilities play a key role in Tribal emergency operations, including providing safe lodging to tribal elders and members of the tribal community in response to natural disasters, ranging from wildfires, flooding, snowstorms and other natural disasters. 

“We are excited the FirstNet Program at AT&T is joining our Association to provide our members with the valuable tools and resources they require to stay mission ready and better serve the visitors and tribal communities where tribal gaming enterprises operate,” he added.

FirstNet, Built with AT&T is designed to help public safety entities and those supporting emergency response improve interoperable communications. This allows first responders to communicate with one another easily and quickly during everyday situations and big events or emergencies. And this is vital to solving the communications challenges public safety and emergency operations personnel have experienced in the past at gaming facilities. 

“The tragic mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas underscored the criticality of communication and coordination between first responders and those supporting emergency response at gaming facilities,” Stevens said. “The Association membership is committed to creating a safe environment for visitors, employees and the broader tribal community. FirstNet is a tool to help our tribal gaming enterprises work with law enforcement and other first responders to address health and safety concerns, ranging from drug and human trafficking to response to medical emergencies. We are proud of our members’ longstanding commitment to being part of the solution.”

FirstNet will help support the Association’s nearly 200 membership tribes as they look to provide the best security and emergency response capabilities and communications for their public safety and local first responders. This is the next step in creating a more cohesive bond between FirstNet and tribal first responder communications. 

“We’re honored that the Indian Gaming Association is promoting best practices and raising awareness among its members about FirstNet as a critical tool to elevate public safety communications capabilities,” said Angel Benally, Tribal Affairs Specialist, FirstNet Program at AT&T. “It’s our mission to give the entire public safety community the cutting-edge tools they need to safely and effectively achieve their mission. FirstNet will help gaming enterprises and the public safety community in Indian Country perform at the highest levels of emergency readiness to help keep themselves and those they serve out of harm’s way.” 

“FirstNet is the exclusive communications platform, built with and for public safety,” said Jeremy Zollo, Chief Market Engagement Officer, FirstNet Authority. “The FirstNet Authority works hand-in-hand with Tribal government leaders and first responders who safeguard Indian country. Together, through the FirstNet Authority’s Tribal Working Group, we are dedicated to ensuring FirstNet delivers what they need, when they need it.”

In October 2019, Stevens and other Tribal gaming and public safety stakeholders gained hands-on experience with FirstNet during a FirstNet Tribal Showcase and Training Exercise hosted by the Southern California Tribal Emergency Management group at the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. Similar Tribal FirstNet Executive Forum & Showcases were recently held in early April 2022 and hosted by the La Jolla Bands of Luiseño Indians and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

FirstNet, Built with AT&T and the FirstNet Authority will collaborate with Association member Nations and public safety stakeholders to identify and promote best practices for implementing FirstNet in Indian Country to serve public safety and casino security communications and coordination. The Association will share findings and best practices at future Association meetings and events. 

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