FirstNet engineers take firefighter training
What is in this article?
During the training portion of the immersion program, FirstNet engineers were allowed to work in four simulated scenarios. One was to arrive at the scene of a multiple-car crash and extricate someone from a car, while another was to provide CPR to an unconscious person, run an EKG on them and prepare them for transport to a hospital.
Suh said gaining an understanding of the wide variety of information that first responders in such situations need to gather and process in order to prioritize their next actions was "truly illuminating," particularly under the time pressures inherent with trying to save a life.
In the commercial world, applications that require multiple clicks to access are an annoyance to users, Suh said. For first responders, having a user-friendly interface that can be accessed quickly is much more critical, for many reasons, he said.
"Regardless if it's firefighters, law enforcement or EMS, under those pressure situations, it's very clear that you need to provide them with the ability to communicate — that communication is both voice, as well as data — and you have to present it very quickly and very easily.
"I think the balance we need to strike is that, in those situations where they're truly multitasking and doing things that are putting their lives at risk — as well as the lives of people that they're trying to save — you've got to design the user experience in such a way that it's very crisp, very easy for them to use, very intuitive and gives them the pertinent information that they need."
Meanwhile, going through two firefighter scenarios — a simulated rescue in a smoke-filled building, as well as entering the intense heat of a burning building — also was very enlightening, according to Clint Cooper, FirstNet's client coordinator.
"We went into this simulated smoke room, which is completely dark inside. You have to crawl around, and you can't see anything — you can barely see your buddy next to you," Cooper said. "It was invaluable to see and to personally be put in the same situations — simulated — as the firemen, to wear their gear, to try to use the push-to-talk radios in that situation, with respirators, very thick gloves and environments where there's fire and smoke and you're crawling around on your hands and knees. It was an experience."
Cooper said he would like to see more integration of the communications devices with the gear that firefighters wear. Such integration has been proposed for some time within the fire sector, but Cooper said he is hopeful that an entity as large as FirstNet can help drive the standards necessary to make this vision a reality.
Incorporating various sensor technologies also would be very beneficial to commanders, he said.
"I think they want a lot more information about the people in the actual danger situation — certainly a combination of mobile data with some position location and maybe even biometrics of the firefighters that are in the structures … could improve that type of situation," Cooper said.
"Applications, devices and bandwidth on the broadband channel need to come together to make those kinds of scenarios possible," he continued. "The technology is all there; we've just got to put it together and integrate it for these folks."