As wildfires burn through the southern Appalachians across seven states in the southeastern US, Verizon is responding with support for firefighters, the US Forest Service, support personnel and impacted residents.
Relentless drought and years of forest floor build-up have resulted in more than 30 still uncontained wildfires that have already burned a total of 128,000 acres. More than 5,000 firefighters and support personnel from at least 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are battling blazes in the fire zone-covering areas in northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee into eastern Kentucky, the western Carolinas and parts of surrounding states.
During an emergency, first responders rely on wireless more than ever to coordinate efforts in the face of fire, flood, snow and wind storm, earthquakes, tornados, or hurricanes. When the southern Appalachian wildfires ignited, Verizon Network teams immediately began monitoring network performance in affected areas to ensure residents and emergency crews could communicate.
Adding wireless capacity through CoLTs
In addition to monitoring for sustained network performance, Verizon has actively supported emergency responders by deploying two CoLTs (Cells on Light Trucks), which are temporary generator-powered mobile cell sites with multiple voice and data channels capable of processing thousands of calls and data transmissions simultaneously. These CoLTs provide additional wireless capacity for emergency crews accessing the Internet, sending text and video messages and making phone calls during disaster response efforts.
To accompany this increased network capacity, Verizon has delivered wireless phones and internet hotspots for the Forestry Service to use in their efforts and has set up a charging station at a fire department in NC to help keep wireless equipment charged and ready for use. In addition to providing reliable connections and added network capacity for the brave heroes fighting the raging wildfires, we were pleased to provide a truck of water and sports drinks for firefighters and support personnel to help keep them hydrated and healthy while they protect the residents of these areas.
Having the best, most reliable 4G LTE network and being there for our customers is never more important than in times of emergencies. We were there during the Louisiana floods. We supported our communities throughout Hurricane Matthew. We provided essential support during the West Coast wildfires. We never left South Carolina’s side during the floods earlier this year. And we are here for our communities now. Being crisis-ready and crisis-proven is paramount to Verizon, and we are committed to supporting those who need us most.