Kansas joins interstate first-responder network

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas has joined 13 other states in an interstate communications network that allows public safety agencies to communicate across jurisdictions during emergencies.

Gov. Sam Brownback announced Tuesday that the state has joined the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T, which will build the statewide broadband network.

Brownback said FirstNet would help in emergencies and natural disasters such as the tornadoes and ice storms.

He also pinpointed how this kind of technology would have helped while fighting the wildfires in Hutchinson, Clark County and Comanche County last spring.

“We had 400 thousand acres burn this year at one time in different places and we had firefighters from all over the state in there and lacked some of this ability to critically communicate,” said Gov. Brownback.

He said opting into the program allows the state to have the network without incurring any of the costs.

AT&T president Mike Scott said the company would build another 26 towers across the state and add capacity to its existing network towers.

FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said the federal government would contribute $7 billion to the project.

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