Sprint's Emergency Response Team

Sprint Nextel’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) is an experienced, cross-functional group that provides wireless telecommunications equipment, infrastructure and personnel support to federal, state and local public safety, law enforcement and military...

A more recent deployment occurred only months ago in Joplin, Mo.; the tornado and storm demolished much of the town. As a result, there were major infrastructure impacts on commercial power, as well as telephone connections were largely cut off in the area. The town hospital, St. John’s Regional Medical Center, also suffered major damage but was preparing to care for the surge of tornado-related injuries.

The ERT deployed to Joplin to provide communications support in the wake of the devastation. The team deployed two SatCOLTs and personnel to support operations that required voice and IP connectivity. ERT SatCOLTs use satellite backhaul and onboard power to operate in the harsh conditions presented after the storm. ERT deployed to Joplin within 24 hours and provided voice and data services to the town’s Joint Operations Center, which became a hub of activity for state and local agencies responding. The Sprint ERT also provided national Sprint voice services and IP connectivity with a VPN tunnel to the St. John’s Regional Medical Center to assist the hospital in its mission and ongoing operations alongside the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team.

The design of the ERT SatCOLT allows it to mitigate commercial power loss and loss of terrestrial Telco. The SatCOLT has onboard power sources—fuel, on board generator and battery backup—and can operate for seven to 10 days without refueling. The SatCOLT also uses satellite backhaul to mitigate loss of commercial Telco and can thus operate independently of the terrestrial network. These are critical design factors because two crucial components to operating a cell site are power and Telco connectivity.

As evidenced by the horrible tornado that hit Joplin communications, being able to coordinate a response is critical to maintaining continuity of operations and organizing recovery efforts.

Coast-to-coast coverage

The ERT has worked alongside public safety and private organizations to be the primary provider of critical communications: from wildfires on one coast to hurricanes on the other; from floods and train derailments in the Northwest to deep freezes and power outages in the Midwest. For nearly a decade, first responders at every level have turned to ERT.

Sprint has also provided communications support and response to large pre-planned events, such as the Democratic and Republican political conventions, the G8 Summit, the Super Bowl and the Presidential Inauguration.


Editor’s note: More about the Sprint ERT can be found online at sprint.com/ert, and on Facebook at SprintEmergencyResponseTeam.

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