Above inset left: Cell on wheels in Utah. Photos via Verizon.
Even as wildfires continue to persist in Western areas of the United States, Verizon has been responding with critical communications to support thousands of firefighters and first responders on the ground. During an emergency, first responders rely on wireless service more than ever to coordinate efforts, and Verizon is there to support those first responders and the communities they serve.
In California, Verizon brought satellite communications service to a remote area where the Schaeffer Fire is burning in Sequoia National Forest, 17 miles north of Kernville in Kern County. The U.S. Forest Service Incident Management Team requested assistance for the fire base camp located at Black Rock Visitor center.
The company is providing two satellite communications solutions to provide 4G LTE service. A Satellite Pico cell on a Trailer (SPOT) includes a 30-foot antenna mast with the satellite dish on top of the trailer. A portable mini-satellite dish with a 4G LTE eFemto cell, is also being used for additional wireless service.
In addition, where existing Verizon network coverage is available, the company is responding to requests for communications assistance by loaning wireless devices and jetpacks (portable wireless hot spots) to first responders at the Winters Fire (Yolo County), Alamo Fire (San Luis Obispo County), Wall Fire (Butte County) and Whittier Fire (Santa Barbara).
In Utah at Brian’s Head Fire, Verizon deployed a Cell on Wheels (COW) to the Brian’s Head Fire command center and base camp near Panguitch. The COW is a mobile cell site with multiple voice and data channels capable of processing thousands of calls and data transmissions simultaneously. The COW provides additional capacity for emergency crews accessing the Internet, sending text and video messages and making phone calls during disaster response efforts. The base camp needed critical communications services to support over 1,000 firefighting personnel.
In Arizona, with sustained heat of over 120 degrees igniting and expanding wildfires, the flames have impacted tens of thousands of acres of land. To assist the first responders and residents of those areas, Verizon deployed multiple network repeaters, which pick up a network signal, amplify it, and point it to an area with weaker or no signal.
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