Rural Telcos, Electric Co-ops Hear From Emergency Preparedness Experts, Share Success Stories
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Withers, 703-351-2087, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON (November 18, 2013) - More than 100 representatives of rural telcos and electric cooperatives gathered in Washington, D.C., today for the first day of the Emergency Preparedness Summit co-hosted by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), where attendees heard from preparedness experts including Lt. General Russel L. Honoré (Ret.) and shared success stories.
NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield kicked off the first-of-its-kind summit, encouraging rural telcos and electric co-ops to forge partnerships at a local level that she said prove valuable when rural utilities are tested in natural disasters and other emergencies.
In a keynote speech that at times resembled a one-on-one work session, Honoré encouraged rural utilities to embrace a culture of resiliency and preparedness in which emergency plans are given the necessary attention and resources. A retired Army general and former commander of Joint Task Force-Katrina leading the Department of Defense response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, Honoré also recognized the vital role that communications and electric providers play in emergencies, remarking "if you can't talk, you can't collaborate" and "you've got to have a backup."
Tim Bryan, chief executive officer of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC), carried forward the theme of safety and preparedness in a talk about plans for the nation's first interoperable, public-safety broadband network known as the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). Bryan, who sits on the FirstNet board of directors, encouraged rural utilities to consider partnering with the project's planners to leverage existing network assets, including fiber-based broadband connections. More information about FirstNet is available at www.firstnet.gov.
The summit reconvenes Tuesday morning with a federal policy update and panel discussion about the role of social media in emergency response.
NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition, NTCA's members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use. Visit us at www.ntca.org.