First Responder plugs communication gaps

RATHEON Company's First Responder is a mobile command center that creates interoperability among various responders' communications systems. Agencies can talk to each other even if they are using multiple types of radios on multiple frequencies.

The system also provides a range of other tools to coordinate an effective response — all in a cost-effective system that is easy to use and easy to update. First Responder can support satellite communications, two-way radios, cell phones, and wireless local area networks (LANs).

“The First Responder makes it possible for firefighters to coordinate with police from surrounding towns and the county's emergency management team, for example, even if they are using different types of radios transmitting on multiple frequencies,” said Dale Craig, Raytheon First Responder program director. “Using vehicle power and satellite uplinks, the First Responder also allows effective communication even when an area's infrastructure is destroyed or disabled. Streamlining and integrating communications saves time — and that can save lives.”

Craig explained that the system is built with off-the-shelf parts that are integrated using Raytheon's expertise in military systems and the advice of experienced police and fire officials.

The mobile system, designed for inexpensive upgrades and in-the-field repairs, includes telephones, radios, wireless LAN and satellite systems combined with computers, back-up batteries, antennas and specialized software. Units also feature touchscreen mapping, personnel-deployment manager, activity logging, asset allocation and instant after-action reporting. Options and possible future enhancements include infrared cameras, biological and chemical detectors, audio and video recording, and database retrieval.

The First Responder system displayed at Fire-Rescue International 2002 was housed in a Chevrolet Suburban but it can be fitted into other vehicles to meet customer needs. Production begins this fall.

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