Associate Magazine - FBINAA - Q3-2022

Continued from "T-Mobile Emergency Response Team ", on page 39

years and holds multiple FEMA and ICS certifications. He’s also a veteran of both the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Air Force. “We’ve done hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, major sports championships, even presidential events. Whether it’s a disaster or something planned, we want to be a company that provides the best communications solutions along with redundant and resilient services to customers nationwide,” Muilenburg said. “And we try to look beyond just the incident and consider other needs like those that people at a shelter might have. We want them to be able to look at their phone and see they have T-Mobile service.” The McKenzie Fire in Oregon burned more than 173,000 acres in September 2020. After an area government agency reached out to T-Mobile requesting internet and cellular service support, Muilenburg worked to deploy a SatCOLT — particularly critical for a nearby medical facility — and coordinated 30 pre-lit devices for a community elementary school. This was despite the fact that the nearest T-Mobile coverage zone was almost 30 miles away. “We set up a cellular bubble, established Wi-Fi, and provided handsets, including many for the medical facility,” Muilenburg said. “Schools were already struggling because of COVID and a local hotel opened its lobby for kids to use the Wi-Fi. The coordination between federal, state, local, and industry was just incredible. It was a powerful example of how we could come together to support the community.” Muilenburg was also involved in the ERT response to a wild fire that raged across the Lake Tahoe (California) area for more than two months during late 2021, destroying more than 220,000 acres, leveling more than a thousand structures, and decimating the small community of Grizzly Flats. “ During a major evacuation, we were supporting the command post and there was an industry call where everyone was made aware of what different teams were doing,” Muilenburg explained. “We adjusted our cell sites to ensure evacuation routes were supported. Everything was moving very fast, so it was a challenge and collaboration was critical. Again, an incredible example of different levels of government and industry effectively working together.” THE IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING, TRAINING, AND EXERCISING As the frequency, complexity, and cost of man-made and natu ral events increase, emergency planning and preparedness have become even more important for first responders. However, unan ticipated problems can disrupt even the best-designed emergency response plan. “Every day, both man and mother nature seem to find new ways to stress the resolve of both our communities and our na tion,” Cooper said. “Some days, from out of nowhere, comes the one thing we never thought would occur, and on other days, it seems we are battling the same problems we faced 20 years ago." “In either case, the connections between government and non-governmental sectors are more important than ever before,” Cooper said. “Whether responding to an active shooter incident, hurricane, or wildfire, or preparing for an upcoming major event, the ability to move from awareness to action for all parties involved is key to maintaining stability, mitigating impacts where needed, and recovering to a state even better than before,” he said. “Delivering on the promise of trust often requires us to stand in the shoes of those we are committed to serving, and many times that means rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands a little dirty,” Cooper said.

INSIGHT FROM ERT MEMBERS T-Mobile Business Development Manager Rodney Cooper is a long-time member of the ERT. He credits his career in the telecommunications industry – with more than 20 years’ experi ence deploying technology, crafting public safety programs, and developing policy – with preparing him for his role on the ERT. “I joined the telecom industry just three months prior to 9/11,” Cooper said. “I immediately found my passion working in the field, helping solve technical challenges for our public safety community. It’s the one area where I knew I could contribute.” The impacts of Hurricane Michael are widely known, particu larly by those who were impacted by this Category 5 hurricane that wreaked widespread havoc to all communications across the panhandle of Florida in October 2018. What is not as well-known is the dependency of the public safety community on T-Mobile’s Emergency Response Team. As with all known events, ERT strate gically staged its fleet of SatCOLTs (Satellite Cell on Light Trucks), satellite network systems, and other deployable resources to maximize first response efforts. “Almost immediately after the storm had passed, the first calls started coming in,” said Cooper. “County-wide area networks were down, commercial telco was down, dispatch operations were largely offline. Simply put, it was a major problem for first respond ers and public officials.” The priority missions were to reconstitute connectivity to county data centers, downstream dispatch locations, and medical facilities. This included mitigating problems related to the loss of wired circuits, wireless networks, and public safety communica tions systems. Another important recovery effort was to provide targeted areas of LTE connectivity for incoming EMS, fire, and law enforcement mutual aid teams. “In reality, these missions were not sequential, and they were all complex and challenging tasks, but we were able to accomplish what we went there to do,” Cooper said. “The power of ERT is so well-known and so well-respected that across just a two-week span, our ERT responded to and supported more than 30 mission-based assistance requests,” he said. Casey Muilenburg is the ERT member responsible for FEMA Regions 9 (California, Nevada, and Arizona) and 10 (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho). He’s been an ERT member for more than 10

continued on page 45

40 F B I N A A . O R G | Q 3 2 0 2 2

Made with FlippingBook flipbook maker