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Broadband ballot issue 1A is a critically important measure before Rio Blanco County voters for a variety of beneficial reasons, including economic development, heritage and agri-tourism, public education, high-quality entertainment and much more.
A less well-known life-safety component of the broadband initiative deals with providing enhanced Next Generation 911 (NG 911) services to residents and visitors to Rio Blanco County, particularly in remote and isolated areas where conventional cell service may be marginal or unavailable.
Tourism and outdoor recreational activities often take visitors into back country areas where no cell service is available. There are substantial risks involved in the variety of outdoor activities that outdoor enthusiasts often engage in.
Natural hazards such as severe weather, getting separated from a group and lost pose a great risk. Accidents and trauma, sudden onset critical illness such as heart attack, stroke, anaphylactic shock from insect stings and food allergies, and much more have the potential to become far more life-threatening or fatal if emergency medical services and rescue first responders cannot be immediately and rapidly summoned via 911. Seconds count in trauma and medical emergencies.
The leading cause of death in the Nation is sudden cardiac arrest [SCA], which kills more than 300,000 annually (see www.sca-aware.org/)
The average survivability of an SCA is less than seven percent. Only if the victim is given CPR and is defibrillated with an Automatic External Defibrillator [AED] within minutes of the SCA does the patient have a moderate chance of surviving. Calling 911 for Emergency Medical Services is a key element in the “Cardiac Chain of Survival” in order to rapidly resuscitate the victim and provide Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) by paramedics while being transported to a hospital emergency department for definitive care.
Access by the public to enhanced NG 911 services in remote isolated rural areas is essential. Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) dispatchers receiving 911 calls can receive exact automatic location identification (ALI) geographic coordinates [latitude and longitude] via a GPS system to permit dispatching rescue services and an aeromedical helicopter rapidly to the exact location of the emergency, thus saving critical time and expediting appropriate responses.
Current cell phone technology in rural areas often does not permit the ANI locating capability and often there is no cell coverage at all in these popular outdoor remote areas. Without such access by ordinary cell phones, only satellite phones offer almost unlimited access to emergency services from back country areas. (See www.longspeakbsa.org/health/WCC_BackcountrySafety.pdf)
The Rio Blanco County Broadband Initiative 1A, if adopted by the voters, will greatly improve access to emergency public safety responders and thus improve the probability of surviving critical trauma and medical emergencies in isolated rural and wilderness areas.
Bob Amick, ENP
Broadband Advocacy Committee
for Rio Blanco County