Sprint® Emergency Response Team - 2,800 deployments and counting. Including work for over 700 public sector and enterprise agencies across the country, 28 presidentially declared disasters, seven national security events and dozens of hurricanes.
DC Sniper Task Force
For three weeks in the fall of 2002, the national capital region feared carrying out basic tasks of commuting, shopping and even going to the gas station. Random victims were being taken by the DC sniper. A task force of ten federal state and local agencies descended to stop him. However, their divergent radio systems didn’t allow them to talk to one another. Sprint deployed 600 handsets, mobile cell sites and seamlessly embedded personnel into task force headquarters so Nextel Direct Connect devices could serve as the primary means of interoperable communications. Then, one night at a quiet highway rest stop, a tactical team ended the nightmare when the coordinated “go” order was heard across Nextel Direct Connect.
Sprint maintains an Emergency Response Team (ERT) to establish self-supported, interoperable mobile communications for public safety users anytime, anywhere. Sprint ERT personnel, many with extensive military and public safety communications experience, use a system of Communications on Light Trucks (COLTs) to carry retractable cell phone towers on top of a 22,500-pound Ford F650 Super Duty chassis. Once deployed, these mobile base stations are technically and functionally indistinguishable from any other base station transmitter in the Sprint network.
Since 2002, Sprint’s twenty-one vehicle ERT unit has carried more than ten million minutes of use for first responders during hurricanes, terrorist events, and other emergencies when agency networks were destroyed, overwhelmed, or otherwise unavailable. Sprint has responded to more than 1,500 major emergencies and national events in just the last five years, deploying more than 100,000 handsets, data cards, mobile cell sites and COLTs.
Sprint’s ERT has worked alongside public safety and private organizations to be the primary provider of critical communications: from wildfires on one coast to hurricanes on the other; from floods and train derailments in the Northwest to deep freezes and power outages in the Midwest. For nearly a decade, first responders at every level have turned first to ERT. Sprint has also provided communications support and response to large pre-planned events, such as the Democratic and Republican political conventions, the G-8 summit, and the Super Bowl. Those responsible for all-hazards planning throughout the country rely on Sprint as the communication provider for their emergency communications needs.
Space Shuttle Columbia Recovery
On an otherwise bright February day in 2003, the nation again stood stunned as the Space Shuttle Columbia returned to earth scattered in tiny pieces over miles and miles of rural Texas terrain.
The federal government established an independent investigating board created immediately following the accident. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board, or CAIB, consisted of expert military and civilian analysts from multiple agencies who investigated the accident in great detail. To determine the cause of the accident, investigator needed to recover as much debris as possible from the shuttle’s re-entry path – a 60 mile swath of territory running through a largely unpopulated area stretching from east of San Francisco, California, to Lafayette, Louisiana. Through the recovery process, Sprint enabled coordinated group connectivity for the federal, state and local agencies involved by deploying 800 handsets, even in areas where no communications infrastructure had ever been deployed, by deploying three of its mobile cell sites.
The morning of August 16, 2008, authorities commenced a multicounty search for Douglas Albert Jaccard, 58, who was suspected of shooting two neighbors and a sheriff's deputy, and of setting fire to his neighbors' house. Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael Conroy said police were searching rural Wythe and Pulaski counties. When a Pulaski County deputy arrived to the scene of the fire, the suspect shot him and fled into a remote wooded area with a bulletproof vest. Houses in the area were evacuated. Five schools in Wythe County were locked down. Yet as law enforcement authorities from around the state converged on the area, they realized they had no coverage and could not communicate. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management activated the Sprint ERT to deploy cellular and emergency dispatch-capable radio communications equipment. With communications restored, the Wythe County Sheriff's Office apprehended the man on August 19. He was charged with capital murder, malicious wounding, arson, breaking and entering and other charges.
The world’s most powerful heads of government attend the annual G8 summit and large delegations from other nations often attend to observe discussions. In 2004, the G8 Summit extended to invitations to a record number of leaders from 12 additional nations, including Ghana, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Yemen and Uganda. The event took place on Sea Island, Georgia – an island with only rudimentary communications capabilities. Working from an almost non-existent base of communications capacity, Sprint stood up essentially a new network for the world leaders, thousands of security and other staff that provided essential wireless communications.
State and Local Elections
Sprint has been called upon election and campaign officials in California, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and others to provide data and voice links, coordinating real-time information to rapidly respond to any challenges to the process.
Funeral Services for Presidents Reagan and Ford
The state funerals for Presidents Ronald Regan and Gerald Ford posed immense logistical and communications challenges as dignitaries and ordinary citizens from across the country and around the world crowded the capital to see the deceased lay in state and participate in the burial services. More than 104,000 people at a rate of approximately 83 per minute paid their respects. To accommodate the burst of mobile communications activity for each event by both the public and public safety users, Sprint deployed thousands of handsets to dozens of agencies to communicate with one another, from federal law enforcement to the Michigan National Guard.
The 2009 Presidential Inauguration
The unprecedented interest and attendance at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration created a need for heightened security and strategic coordination from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
To ensure the reliability of their mobile communications on January 20, 2009 and the days preceding, Sprint’s ERT provided additional wireless and IP coverage by deploying a SatCOLT™, working closely with the public safety officials, and supplying hundreds of Nextel Direct Connect devices and the Sprint ERT Go-Kit™, which provides first responders with immediate access to mobile communications tools for emergencies, including fully-charged cell phones and Sprint Mobile Broadband devices.
2008 Democratic National Convention
Sprint’s ERT provided wireless communications and more than 2,000 handsets for the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. Sprint enhanced its network in the Pepsi Center, the Colorado Convention Center, INVESCO Field, Denver International Airport, and the downtown business and hotel district. Sprint also helped man the Multi-Agency Communications Center (MACC), a 24-hour communications hub organized by the United States Secret Service.
2004 Democratic and Republic National Conventions
In 2004, Sprint deployed multiple COLTs and a total of more than 8,300 handsets for both the Democratic convention in Boston and the Republican convention in New York. Threats associated with the events in addition to the complex security and road closures around the convention venues required extension communications support. For each convention-area deployment, Sprint ERT personnel served as integral components of the inter-agency command center, ensuring communications for more than sixty separate public safety organizations manning the events.
One of the most destructive hurricanes to ever make landfall in the United States, Hurricane Ike killed more than 100 Americans and caused more than $24 billion in damage. Sprint's ERT received dozens of requests from first responders, local government and businesses in the impacted area. “We have deployed 15 Nextel Direct Connect® devices into the field to key officers and school administrators, and they are already proving to be more reliable and dependable in most areas as we make key safety decisions and work through the recovery process,” said Alan Bragg, chief of police, Spring Independent School District Police Department, Harris County, Texas. “We have utilized the devices in many locations and have obtained excellent communications results."
Hurricanes Katrina, Dennis, Rita and Wilma
Sprint served as the primary provider of critical communications following devastating hurricanes in 2005. Sprint enabled responders to save countless lives, even making possible air-to ground communications effectuating the direct rescue of those in peril. Sprint deployed five of its COLTs and more than 7,600 units to multiple states to be utilized by key leaders of all branches of government and more than 75 agencies, including the Department of Defense. Sprint enabled the coordination and the only interoperable communication for thousands of responders and law enforcement officers from around the country.
Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne
In 2004, Sprint distributed more than 5,400 handsets, provided Priority Connect to over 160,000 users, deployed ERT personnel and 5 COLTs to multiple locations in support of over 125 federal, state and local police, fire and emergency management agencies and operation centers (EOCs), supporting the recovery efforts of four consecutive hurricanes throughout the state of Florida.
In October 2007, California wildfires began burning across Southern California, destroying at least 1,500 homes, killing nine people and injuring 85 others, including at least 61 firefighters. Sprint provided support to those battling the 500,000-acre wildfires in California and nearby states. During several periods in 2007, Sprint operated multiple COLTs and deployed nearly 1,000 handsets to allow responders from California and those responding from other states to have real interoperability and coordination for multiple fire incidents in several regions.
With five million attendees and tens of millions of people watching from around the world, the 2002 Winter Olympics demanded intensive communications infrastructure support. More than 90 federal, state and local agencies were charged with providing world-class safety and security to provide a smooth and worry-free experience for athletes and visitors from around the globe. Sprint deployed more than 4,000 units, personnel and mobile cell sites over 14 sites in five cities to enable these agencies to accomplish their mission.
Pope Benedict XVI visited the United Nations and the United States in April 2008. Hundreds of thousands of faithful turned out in New York City and Washington, D.C. to celebrate the event. The pope met with the President on the South Lawn of the White House and offered mass to tens of thousands at Nationals Park. On the final day of his pastoral visit to the U.S. in New York City, more than 60,000 people crowded Yankee Stadium for Mass. To support the pontiff’s visit, Sprint provided COLTs and more than 500 handsets to public and private organizations to allow for communication both in Washington, D.C. and New York City.