Verizon partners with U.S. military in extreme training to prepare for natural disaster response

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - With hurricane season just months away, Verizon recently teamed with the U.S. military in a training exercise to ensure its people and assets are prepared for rapid recovery efforts when critical communications need to be restored during natural disasters. For the first time, Verizon’s Response Team worked alongside the Air Force, Mississippi National Guard and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in a six-day training that took place in and around Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The exercise, PATRIOT 24, consisted of multiple realistic, high-intensity simulated crisis scenarios which included a Category Four hurricane damaging critical communications at a hospital and a tornado causing a nuclear radiation release with network restoration needed in a hot zone. Watch the team in action here.

“Our network is built with industry leading resiliency and reliability because we know our customers, government agencies and first responders rely on us to keep them connected in times of crisis,” said Julie Slattery, Senior Vice President of Core Engineering & Operations at Verizon. “When natural disasters strike, our team is always ready because we've invested heavily and train relentlessly to be deployed at a moment’s notice to assist with rapid recovery efforts of critical communications infrastructure.”

Verizon’s Response Team trained alongside the National Guard in areas including major debris removal, flooding and erosion response, search and rescue (SAR) operations, chemical and radiological response operations, air medical evacuations, K9 activity, drone support and security operations.

Verizon’s Response Team is made up of various groups of specialized engineers and technicians which include former first responders and military personnel who are trained to run to a crisis. The Verizon Response Teams participating in the drills included:

  • Verizon’s Major Emergency Response Incident Team (MERIT), a specialized team of hazardous material-certified Verizon technicians and engineers.

  • Verizon’s Dedicated Impact Response Team (DIRT), technicians and engineers with specialty training in mobile satellite asset deployment, basic generator repair, and cable/connector making.

  • Verizon’s Emergency Response Team (ERT), technicians and engineers supporting wireline operations specialized in restoring fiber connections.

  • Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Team dedicated to providing on-demand, emergency communication assistance during crisis situations to government agencies and emergency responders, on a 24/7 basis. During PATRIOT 24, the team set up portable cell sites, WiFi hotspots, and other Verizon Frontline solutions, including the Verizon Rapid Response Connectivity Unit, to help enable communications and/or boost network performance.

To prepare for natural disasters, Verizon maintains a fleet of over 550 portable assets, including fully functional, generator-powered cell sites that can replace or enhance network coverage and capacity in a given area as well as drones and a fixed wing aircraft that can provide service and situational awareness from the sky above. Additionally, Verizon boasts an industry-leading 200 satellite-based portable network assets.

Verizon Frontline is the advanced network and technology built for first responders – developed over three decades of partnership with public safety officials and agencies on the front lines – to meet their unique and evolving needs.

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