Emergency communications exercise to provide invaluable practice for first responders

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – During a time of crisis, communication is a top priority for first responders. 

At this weekend’s Mobile Communications Functional Exercise, agencies from across the state will practice working together to provide communications during a major disaster, such as an earthquake or tornado.  

“Taxpayers’ money goes to support this type of equipment, and if we have a major disaster, that’s what this equipment is going to be used for, to provide communications in that time of need,” Cape Girardeau Fire Department Battalion Chief Brad Dillow said.

Events like the one this weekend at the Cape Girardeau SportsPlex help agencies like the Cape Girardeau Fire Department iron out any kinks that may crop up during an emergency situation. 

“The other benefit to this is all these different agencies coming together and working and meshing together to work out problems and things, so that’s really needed, for us to be able to work together,” Dillow said. “Because if we have a large event, we’re all going to be coming together to provide communications for that event.” 

Mark Gooch of FirstNet, a nationwide broadband network dedicated to first responders, said the priority access that first responders have to the network helps with the congestion that can happen in a busy network. 

“There are multiple benefits to having it, but I think the key one is priority access to the network,” he said. “When a situation arises, the network can oftentimes get very congested. With FirstNet, our first responders and every FirstNet user gets priority access to the network. They won’t get that busy signal that oftentimes people will get.” 

And so nothing, not even a busy network, can get in the way of first responders helping those in need. 

“For the public, it’s good for them to know that we are here to support the first responders who support them to make sure they have the communications they need in a crisis situation,” Gooch said. 

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