First responders are excited about FirstNet communication system coming to Alabama

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. - This week Governor Kay Ivey announced that Alabama will be joining FirstNet -- a broadband network for first responders across the state.

Local first responders are excited about the change. "We can get something really quick to people that need it," said Chief Nick Welden of Valley Head Police.

This is an advanced communication system for first responders all over the state. Departments will pay a service charge, but the program, as well as additional benefits, are free. "It's going to be like a cellphone device, like a two-way and cell phone device radio using the AT&T towers," explained Welden.

Chief Nick Welden said communication among units and agencies can be difficult. "Like last year, up the Valley with the fires moving up. We would have to go through two or three chains just to get to them, and by then you're kind of behind the eight ball."

Factors like the terrain of the area can be a huge downfall for communication. "With FirstNet, the capabilities of it is you can get information directly to a first responder. It's not just for law enforcement, it's for all first responders."

Responders in different agencies will have a device that will not only communicate with local crews during times of emergency but also with anyone they need in the entire state.

"We're really excited about it, especially when you live in the mountains here," said Chief Welden. "Communication is very crucial and at the end of the day, this communication is not only going to benefit us, but it's going to benefit the citizens of this county more than they'll ever know."

Alabama first responders are anxiously awaiting the date that the new system will arrive.