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City of Norwich Mutual Aid Group Emergency First Responders Present Interoperability Challenges, Solutions for Local Area – Possibly CT State

Congressman Joe Courtney, 2nd District, CT, discusses implications of First InterComm™ Solution throughout region at exclusive event

Yantic, Conn. – Monday, January 26, 2009 – Yantic Fire Engine Company Chief Frank Blanchard presented the communications interoperability solutions that have been implemented throughout the City of Norwich Mutual Aid Group, affecting the numerous first responders from around the mutual aid group who also attended the event.  Congressman Joe Courtney, 2nd District, CT, also attended the event and discussed the importance of these efforts and the implications they have on the community, and potentially the entire state. 

“During catastrophic structure fires, such as the recent fires at Stonington Estates, the Peachtree Apartments and the Phelps Dodge Factory, first responders experienced serious communication issues due to the need for multiple responding agencies, who currently communicate on different radio frequencies,” said Chief Blanchard.  “A lack of interoperability between those various responding agencies detracts from the timeliness and overall operational success of the various first responders – today, we now have a solution.”

Chief Blanchard, who served as incident commander at numerous mutual aid fires throughout the City of Norwich Mutual Aid Region, presented how interoperability communications challenges are being addressed and resolved, and how that resolution addresses problems facing the entire state and other parts of the country. The event was held at 1 p.m. on Friday, January 16, 2009 at the Mohegan Tribal Public Safety Building, where more than 30 guests in attendance, including Congressman Courtney and City of Norwich Mayor Benjamin Lathrop. 

“I am pleased to be able to stand with our first responders to provide the technology and resources they need to address the critical interoperability challenge,” said Rep. Joe Courtney. “When first responders arrive on scene with different radios on different frequencies, tools like BAE Systems’ First InterComm™ solution bridge the communications gap and provides our first responders with the seamless communications necessary when every second counts.”

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, awarded $282,000 to the City of Norwich Mutual Aid Group to address and resolve interoperability challenges.  The funds were then used to purchase units, such as the First InterComm system from BAE Systems, to meet the emergency response needs of 17 fire departments in the Norwich Region, including the Yantic Fire Company.

“The First InterComm system has been an excellent resolution to the challenges we’ve been facing, helping to save time, lives and personal property – which ultimately results in less widespread catastrophe in emergency situations,” said Blanchard.  “The AFG grant did exactly what it was intended – provide funds for firefighters and departments to obtain the technology they need to help save lives.”

The First InterComm system is a voice interoperability solution that allows first responders throughout multiple emergency response departments to communicate among varying radio frequencies using the fire departments existing equipment, ultimately expediting response times, improving coordinated relief efforts and helping save lives.

For more information about the First InterComm system, please visit www.baesystems.com/firstintercomm.

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