Life Is Tough. You Can’t Let It Get You Down

Life is tough

I am not in the habit of paying attention to too much I see on social media, but I thought the following was pretty poignant.  A lot of things in life are tough. Trying to make and keep Kopis Mobile successful is tough. Raising kids is tough. Making ends meet is tough. It goes on and on. Hopefully, this post helps put some things into perspective.

Life is tough, no doubt! It’s a twisting and winding roller coaster of ups and downs, and sometimes it seems like as soon as you get up, you’re knocked down again.

Life can be difficult sometimes and i’m sure that I am preaching to the choir when I say that. Everyone knows life is tough, but nobody ever realizes just how tough it can get. When things start to tumble down around you it can make you feel hopeless. While you shouldn’t ever try to control the things that happen around you – because you can’t – it doesn’t mean you just have to sit there and take a beating. Get back up on your feet and fight back. When things start to crumble we tend to just dig the hole deeper for ourselves.

The more you beat yourself down the harder it gets to keep going, trust me. However, once you accept these brutal truths, it’ll help you get your shit together. We get so caught up in the worldly complications we create for ourselves that we forget some of the most concrete things! You can’t keep waiting for things to get better; you have to do it yourself. Accepting these things will really open your eyes to the importance of it.

1. You’re Dying

No matter how much time and money you spend on making your life good, and perfecting it, it will always end no matter what.

2. Everybody You Know Will Die

You can’t constantly obsess over losing people and death, but you also can’t take anyone for granted. Eventually, everyone you know will die, and you might not be the last one to go either.

3. Wealth Isn’t Happiness

No matter what amount of money you have it will never cause you to be happy. Happiness is within, no matter the riches.

4. Searching for Happiness Makes You Lose It

Happiness is right under your nose. If you are constantly searching for something to make you happy, you’ll never suffice your hunger. In order to be happy you have to be happy with what you already have.

5. Spend Time Not Money

Many people have the belief that you can’t enjoy yourself without spending money, but this is false. You don’t have to go out to dinner, to see a movie, or go to an amusement park to have fun.

6. You Can’t Please Everyone

Trying to please everyone around you is exhausting. You just can’t do it, so stop trying.

7. Accept Your Feelings

Stop trying to deny yourself of emotions. You have feelings and you can’t get past them without admitting you have them to begin with.

8. When You’re Gone, You’re Gone

Don’t even worry about trying to leave a legacy because you probably won’t be able to. There are 7 billion of us, there’s just not enough you can do to make people remember you.

9. Be Responsible

Nobody is responsible for your actions except for you. Regardless of what influences you, you are the ultimate decider in your fate. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions.

10. Stop Trying to Be Perfect

None of us are perfect, and although we all try to be, we never will be. Perfection is an imaginary tale of fairies. Stop trying to live up to some non-existent standard and love yourself.

11. Don’t Waste Talent

If you have a talent put it to use! Don’t let a god given ability go to waste!

12. Live in the Now

As much as we try to plan out and control our lives, we ultimately don’t control anything. You can try to predict the future and prepare for it, but it’ll never work out the way you think it will. Stop trying to perfect the future and stop dwelling on the past and you will achieve happiness.

13. Nobody Cares How Hard Your life Is

Life is hard for everyone. It throws us all twists and turns, so stop thinking you’re the only one it happens to. Stop going on and on trying to make everyone believe your life is harder than theirs. It’s a never ending piss contest.

14. Share Your Knowledge

Learning things is useless unless you share it with the people around you! Knowledge is only of help if we share it with each other. If you learn something the hard way, help your neighbor out by warning them.

15. Invest in Yourself

If you don’t spend time on yourself life is pointless! You don’t get to live as anyone else, so take the time to really make yourself the best version there is.

16. When Things Suck, Don’t react

Life might always throw us curveballs, but it ultimately comes down to the way you react to it. If you believe it is the end of the world it will really feel like it. However, keep your chin up and remain positive and you’ll see that things aren’t half bad.

17. Quit Dreaming and Do the Work

Dreams are for the birds, you have to make your biggest wishes come true. There are no wish granting genies even though we all still hope one will show up for us. It’s time to stop expecting things to change and change them for yourself. Want to be an actor? Go be an actor. Stop wishing and do it

18. Time is More Valuable than Money

We are so obsessed with money that we forget about the real terms of currency in life; time. We literally exchange 40 hours of our lives per week in exchange for cash. You have to realize that time is much more valuable than money. You can do a bunch more with it too.

19. Be Grateful

No matter how bad you think you might have it, there is always someone who has it worse. Be happy and be grateful for the things you do have instead of wishing for the things you don’t! It takes the joy and value out of everything if you don’t appreciate it!

20. Donate Time

You should donate time to making your community better, not just money. The only way to get the ball moving on improving our society is by actually doing something about it. Step up and donate some time to the community!

21. Don’t Lose Yourself

It’s important to never lose your true sense of self throughout the journey of life. Always remember what is important to you and keep a sense of your priorities!

22. You Can’t Take Money with you When You Die

You might be a millionaire in this world, but you certainly can’t take it with you when you move on. We all die eventually, so don’t get too caught up in your own finances. There are more important things in life.

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Army Tests New Tactical Vehicles For Future Conflicts

The Hunter (right) and Killer vehicles drive up a road toward the experimentation area of the Maneuver Fires Integrated Exercise (MFIX), April 3, at Fort Sill. (Photo by Monica K. Guthrie)

Although we don’t do much with vehicles, we do like to post information on cool stuff. Polaris manufactures some really great vehicles. We bump into some of their guys at various trade shows from time to time. This is an article from Autoblog.

Two dune buggies crest a hill at Fort Sill, Okla. These aren’t recreational 4x4s, but military prototypes with a definite job: to help the U.S. Army develop a next-generation fighting vehicle. They are Polaris MRZRs, outfitted with radar domes, electronic jamming equipment, video monitors and various sizes and styles of antennae that sprout from the grille, rear bumper and seatbacks.

As befitting such cutting-edge military machines, the Army testers have dubbed these “Hunter” and the other “Killer.” They are being put through the paces at an Army exercise called the Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX), held last spring.

The 10-day event involves scores of real-world tests of new technologies that the Army says it needs to keep up with the modernizing militaries of China, Iran and Russia.

Hunter and Killer provide a glimpse into what future battles might look like, and what combat vehicles will be asked to do. The lessons learned now will be applied to vehicles the Army hopes to field in 2020, Army officials tell Autoblog.

The first thing that becomes obvious when examining these machines is that the Army is not counting on infantry troops to be able to drop close to their mission targets. “We’ve all grown used to an environment where we’ve enjoyed air superiority,” says Maj. Andrew Forney, branch chief of the Maneuver, Aviation, Soldier Division, Army Capabilities Integration Center at Fort Sill. “We’re having a lot of discussions on what we do if we can’t rely on that.”

Modern antiaircraft missiles made by Russia and China have increasingly long ranges, so infantry parachuting into combat will have to travel farther to get to the fight. That means small off-road vehicles will have to be dropped with them, to help ferry the soldiers and the 80 pounds of gear they each carry closer to the action.

It’s no coincidence that Polaris ATVs are being used for this test. They have a pedigree within the military because of their use by Special Operations forces. The company even has a division called Polaris Defense to focus on this market. Special Operations forces also use the General Dynamics’ Flyer as an off-road vehicle of choice.

New tactical vehicle

However familiar, the Army cannot just adopt these militarized dune buggies since Special Operations Command has some specific uses and requirements for their ATVs that the Army doesn’t share.

SpecOps vehicles carry six soldiers, not the nine needed to transport an entire squad of infantry. SpecOps also demands a vehicle that the troops (called operators) can use as a fighting platform, so they have weapons mounts.

They carry extra, secret communications equipment. And while some Army helicopters can carry these vehicles, the versions fielded today aren’t designed to be dropped from airplanes.

Neither Hunter nor Killer are the final design that will appear in the field in 2020. A large-scale acquisition program will settle that in the future. But the gear that the vehicle has to carry, and the rules that govern how frontline soldiers use it, are being developed now.

Let’s get back to that hypothetical airdrop. The Army troops have landed, stowed their parachutes and loaded up their 4x4s. They are now ready to move toward the enemy’s position. To get there unnoticed — and to be “noticed” means being targeted by lethal barrages of enemy artillery — requires air defenses targeted at enemy drones.

Russia used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to spot Ukrainian forces during their recent conflict, a grim lesson that U.S. military planners took to heart. Knocking down UAVs is now a cottage industry, and more than a dozen drone-killing systems tested at MIFIX 2017 proved this interest is still strong.

The system that got the most attention was a 5-kilowatt laser mounted on a Stryker vehicle, which officials say torched more than 12 drones during the exercises. A 10-kW version is to be tested in November.

But the laser is too big for the buggies needed to drop into combat with airborne forces. For scale, the Army says Hunter/Killer has a maximum load of 1,500 pounds — compare that to the Army’s current Stryker vehicle weighing almost 20 tons. So these small vehicles need something else to counter snooping unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Killer vehicle has specialized radar and a laser range finder that soldiers can use to detect and track drones as they get close. Some of these systems have been adapted from equipment developed to track incoming mortar rounds.

The system is largely automated. When the drone is spotted, the soldiers can jam the communications between a UAV and its operator, a bit of electronic warfare pushed out to the front line of a battle.

Giving a commander the tools in hand to make a quick decision could be the key to victory, or even survival. “What we’re excited about is that these platforms allow these capabilities to be pushed down to the tactical level,” says Michael Murray, battle operations software suite team program lead for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.

The main mission of these light, air-dropped forces is to find the enemy and direct long-range attacks against their air defenses. That could mean missions such as disabling GPS signal jamming, directing long-range cruise missile attacks against command centers, seizing airports or crippling antiaircraft missile batteries. These actions will open up the skies to warplanes, friendly drones and closer airdrops of reinforcements or supplies.

This is the art of what the military calls “precision fires.” Army troops need to be able to direct long-distance attacks from their own branch, or from the Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps. At MFIX 2017, the Hunter vehicle was kitted out with an automated system that can ease the process of asking for this support.

The soldiers in the vehicle also had a live video feed showing them what U.S. drones were seeing. This kind of tech is already standard at headquarters and is becoming standard in many large vehicles, but is also needed by those close to the action — airborne divisions.

“After previous exercises, we heard, ‘We love these capabilities, but it’d be great if they were on a vehicle that is suited for a light division,” says Murray. “We want to arm that young leader with things that let him operate decentralized, with all the tools and situational awareness he needs to make decisions in real time, at the tactical edge and not at divisional HQ.”

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NGAUS Conference 2017

NGAUS 2017 Conference and Expo

8-10 September, Kopis Mobile will have a booth at The National Guard Association of the United States Expo (NGUAS) in Louisville, Ky. We will have a multi-faceted display set up in booth 506.

During the show, we are dedicating efforts on our FastForm Readiness System. The system is designed to cut time wasting paperwork by 50%. It focuses on tracking a Guard Unit’s medical, dental and Officer Efficiency Reports / Non Commissioned Officer Efficiency Reports.

Example Only. Not real personal data

The FastForm Readiness System was designed with the National Guard in mind. We learned from multiple interviews that tracking all of this individual information is a nightmare.

With a simple swipe of an ID card, updated information is available in less than 10 seconds. One of the best features of the system is it all happens on a mobile tablet. An email can be generated directly from the tablet to a specific unit member alerting them of a deficiency. It tells them what the problem is, how to fix the problem and what happens if they don’t fix the problem.

Currently, National Guard Units from across the country are being deployed to assist in recovery operations from Hurricane Harvey. Now, Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the East Coast. Without doubt, the National Guard will be deployed to the worst effected areas.

At the NGUAS show, we will be introducing our latest addition to the Readiness System. It focuses on critical qualifications held by Guard members that would be most needed during a natural disaster. Things like bulldozer driver, construction worker, plumber, or electrician.

So if you are in the Louisville area September 8th-10th or you are already attending the conference, please stop in at booth 506. We want to hear your ideas. We developed FastForm by listening to military members didn’t have an easy solution to their problem. The more we know, the better we are at making the lives of those that make us safe better.

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National Guard Steps Forward In A Time Of Need

In A Time Of Need
National Guard Steps Up

It has taken a hurricane of biblical proportions to bring our country together and no one comes together like the citizens of Texas. Although people are obviously suffering, it restores one’s hope to see how our country has responded.

More than 30,000 National Guard and active duty troops were on standby Tuesday to assist overwhelmed Texas authorities in coping with the “historic” national disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey and the torrential rains and flooding that came in its wake.

At least 10 persons are believed to have died in Harvey’s aftermath, and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo announced Tuesday the first death of an officer assigned to disaster relief. Acevedo said Officer Steve Perez, a 34-year veteran, drowned in a flooded-out underpass as he tried to reach his duty station.

Acevedo said Perez’ wife told him that she pleaded with her husband not to go, but he told her

“We’ve got work to do” in rescuing thousands of city residents stranded by the floods and getting them to shelter.

Harvey, now downgraded from a Category 4 Hurricane to a tropical storm with sustained winds of 45 mph, was meandering off the Gulf Coast and was expected to take aim at southwest Louisiana as it came back ashore on a path to the vicinity of Shreveport, Louisiana, according to the National Weather Service.

On Monday, President Donald Trump issued a federal emergency declaration for five parishes in southwest Louisiana: Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson Davis and Vermillion.

The Weather Service warned of another storm surge along the coast, with “a possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland.”

Hard rains were still falling and rivers were still rising across wide swaths of Texas, and a broken levee and controlled releases from overflowing dams added to the flooding that has made escape routes impassable.

Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, called Harvey and its aftermath “one of the largest disasters America has ever faced.”

Abbott was on hand under clear skies in Corpus Christi, Texas, on the Gulf Coast Tuesday morning to meet President Donald Trump, who arrived on Air Force One with First Lady Melania Trump to survey the damage and show support for first responders.

At the Annaville Fire Department, Trump heard reports from Coast Guardofficers and Federal Emergency Management Administrator Brock Long. “All eyes are on Houston, and so are mine,” Long said. “We’ve got a long time to go. We’re still in a life-saving, life-sustaining mission.”

Trump said the storms and flooding were “of epic proportion. No one has ever seen anything like this.” He told Abbott: “You have been terrific and you have been effective.”

Trump, wearing a windbreaker and a white “USA” ballcap, later stopped to address a crowd of several hundred supporters who had gathered nearby chanting “U.S.A! U.S.A.!” He said “This is epic, but you know what, this is Texas and Texas can handle anything.”

“I love you, you are special. We’re here to take care of you. It’s going well,” Trump said. “What a crowd, what a turnout,” he said. “We are going to get you back and operating immediately.”

Trump later went to Austin for more briefings on the response and the recovery efforts once the skies clear. He also made a reference to the long-term costs. “There’s probably never been anything so expensive in our country’s history,” he said.

Trump arrived in Texas on the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and led to widespread criticism of then-President George W. Bush over the federal response. For Katrina, 50,000 National Guard and 20,000 active-duty forces were mobilized.

Abbott called up about 900 from the Texas Army and Air National Guard before Harvey hit on Friday, and on Sunday he said about 3,000 had been mobilized. On Monday, Abbott said that all 12,000 in the Texas National Guard had been activated.

At the Pentagon Tuesday, Maj. Gen. James Witham, the National Guard Bureau’s Director of Domestic Operations, said there were actually 19,000 members of the Texas Guard, but 12,000 were currently available. He said the rest were either activated or other duties, were in training, or were unavailable.

Witham said that on Tuesday about 3,000 members of the Texas Guard were actively involved in rescue and recovery and he expected that number to grow to 4,000.

The Texas Guard had 200 high-ride vehicles in operation, with another 200 in reserve, Witham said. About 30 Texas Guard helicopters were active, and 24 more have been requested, Witham said. “We could grow up to 100 helicopters” before the storms subside, he said.

The Texas Guard alone thus far has rescued about 3,500 people stranded by the storms and flooding, including about 300 by helicopter hoist, Witham said.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which operates under Department of Homeland Security, had at least 20 helicopters operating Tuesday in the Houston area and reported that air and ground teams had rescued more than 1,450 people.

The National Guard was preparing to deploy 20,000-30,000 more troops to Texas in anticipation that Abbott makes a formal request for them, Witham said.

“I would like to emphasize that our response to this hurricane has been different to anything we’ve experienced before and we expect it to be much longer in terms of the response phase in terms of what we could normally see with a hurricane,” Witham said.

In addition to the Guard troops, active-duty air, ground and naval assets were on standby to respond in Texas but were also awaiting Abbott’s request, Witham said at a Pentagon briefing. “It depends on the governor and the state to ask for assistance,” he said. “Texas just hasn’t asked for them yet” but “we are leaning as far forward as we possibly can.”

When asked if Abbott had been too slow to ask for additional Guard and active-duty help, Witham said “Well, that’s debatable.”

“In many cases, the request for assistance not only for the National Guard but federal forces may not have been anticipated quick enough but we are providing everything we can as quickly as the state asks for it,” he said.

However, Witham said, “There are federal forces involved in the response now,” possibly under the dual-status command for Guard and Reserve, and active-duty that can be designated by Defense Secretary James Mattis with a governor’s permission.

Witham said that Abbott on Sunday signed a memo agreeing to have a dual status commander take charge of the Guard and active duty response. Mattis immediately named Brig. Gen. Patrick Hamilton of the Texas Army National Guard to be the dual-status commander, Witham said.

As the apparent result, Marine Corps Amphibious Assault Vehicles began appearing in Galveston, Texas, on Tuesday.

2nd Lt. Stephanie Leguizamon, a spokeswoman for Marine Forces Reserve, said 56 Marines and sailors from Charlie Company, Assault Amphibian Battalion, were currently assisting the Galveston, Texas, Fire Department with search-and-rescue missions.

The amphibious assault ship Kearsarge also reportedly was preparing to leave Norfolk, Virginia, with more Navy and Marine assets to aid in the Harvey recovery.

At a briefing Monday, Army Col. Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said that Randolph-Seguin auxiliary airfield at Joint Base San Antonio has been designated as a forward staging area for the distribution of supplies and equipment in anticipation that active-duty troops would be headed to Texas.

The Pentagon also sent to Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth a search-and-rescue unit with nine rotary-wing aircraft, two fixed-wing aircraft, para-rescue teams and planners, Manning said.

The Defense Department was also pre-positioning troops, search and rescue units, aircraft, vehicles, equipment and supplies to staging areas near the worst of the flooding to await Abbott’s request for assistance, Manning said.

“As of now, all Guard personnel providing assistance are on Title 32, or state orders. Active-duty units are enroute to the staging area in anticipation of a possible request,” Manning said, but “here has been no formal tasking of Title 10 DoD units,” meaning active-duty forces.

Late Friday, U.S. Northern Command said several actions underway in Texas at the request of Abbott for specific units and in support of FEMA.

In a statement, NorthCom said nine helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft, along with pararescue teams and associated command and control elements, were operating out of Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas.

NorthCom said those Navy and Air Force search-and-rescue (SAR) assets were flying missions that resulted in more than 225 rescues. In addition, five Zodiak rescue boat crews were assisting with rescues.

NorthCom also said that about 100 light and medium tactical vehicles were on the move from the Army post at Fort Hood, Texas, to Katy, Texas, to support the Red Cross in moving patients and residents out of flooded areas in Houston.

Richard Sisk for

From us at Kopis Mobile, our thoughts and prayers are with everyone. Given most of our employees lived through Hurricane Katrina, we know the long road those folks have ahead of them. They will endure and will rebuild.

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Emergency Medical Tech (EMT) For Over Thirty Years

Howard Elkins 30 years of service

In the current age of fake news, negative news, and bad news, Kopis Mobile would like to post something positive. Doing anything for 30 years is tough, being an EMT for 30 years is even tougher. One can only imagine what Howard Elkins has witnessed over his long years of service.

In First Responders we meet Metro Ambulance paramedic and crew chief Howard Elkins. Elkins has been involved in helping others for nearly thirty years.

“I like taking care of people who truly need it. It makes the job fun and exciting,” Elkins says.

Howard Elkins has been with Metro for 13 years. He started his career in public service as a volunteer firefighter in Scott County.

“I was an EMT with the fire department and some of my friends, Teddy Derrick being one of them, were going to paramedic school and gave me a call to do it. Now, here we are,” Elkins says.

Elkins says there are many downsides to the job. They include working on children and seeing them injured.

“Over the years I’ve worked several of those who have been seriously injured. Some of them fatally injured. It’s just hard when you have kinds of your own to deal with that. To continue going through the process, even though you’re looking at this child thinking it could be yours,” Elkins says.

Elkins says the rewarding moments of being a paramedic come when he sees someone he has helped in the past.

“Week or a month later you see them out at Walmart or somewhere else. They walk up to you and say, ‘Hey, you were that guy that pulled me out of that car that night.’ Or, ‘got me out of the house when I had that stroke and I’m doing great!’ Stuff like that makes it worth it,” Elkins says.

Elkins has four daughters. He says they all have some interest in helping others.

“I have a pharmacist, a nurse, one planning to become a doctor and another one in middle school,” Elkins says.

Elkins says he plans on continuing a career as a paramedic for as long as he can.

“We try to treat people with respect and dignity. A lot of times we don’t get that in return. We strive really hard to do the best we can,” Elkins says.

Please keep this article in mind when you see an EMT or law enforcement officer during the course of your busy day. Take a few seconds to say “Thank you” or buy them a cup of coffee. I guarantee, they will appreciate the effort.

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Kopis Mobile is excited to announce that we have been ranked #384 in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the U.S. This is truly an honor for the Kopis Mobile team. Additionally, we ranked third in the Computer Hardware category nationwide and we are the second fastest growing company in Mississippi. This honor could not be achieved without all of the hard work, dedication, late nights and lots of travel done by Team Kopis. When I say Team Kopis, it’s not just the men and women who come into the offices every day, it also includes our employee’s families. Our folks missed a lot of family events and quality time with their kids over the years. 

This honor solidifies our endeavor to develop and deliver the best products to those that keep us safe! It fuels us to work even harder to improve their efficiency, safety and awareness.

Congrats Team Kopis on a job well done!

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Cellular Network For First Responders Set To Launch

First Responder Network

We have been hearing about a first responder cellular network for over two years now. During the attacks on September 11, 2001, the cellular network in and around New York City was completely over taxed. It took 11 years for Congress to establish a first responder specific network. It would seem it has taken another 6 years to finally make it a reality.

After years of discussion and planning, a nationwide cellular network for police, firefighters and other first responders is set to launch.

The FirstNet broadband network will allow public safety workers to communicate directly through voice, text, data and video. In emergency situations when cell towers are overloaded, communication to and from emergency personnel will take priority over calls from the public.

As the Washington Post describes it, paramedics in the back of an ambulance will be able to send video ahead to the emergency room, firefighters can stream video of an incident to their commanders, and police who aren’t near a computer will be able to access criminal records. The network will also track the locations of safety workers.

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was established by Congress in 2012 in response to the communication problems after the Sept. 11 attacks, but the plan to create a broadband network didn’t move forward until this year, when a major carrier signed on as a partner.

In March, FirstNet announced that it had awarded AT&T the wireless spectrum for the project. AT&T has agreed to invest $40 billion to build out the network and secure it.

The network is expected to launch this coming March. 

States Signing On

States and territories must sign on to the project individually. In June, FirstNet and AT&T released customized plans for each state outlining the coverage, features and capabilities of FirstNet.

Since 2013, FirstNet has worked with states, territories, public safety officials and federal authorities to collect input on how the network could best meet their communication needs.

“When we announced our public-private partnership in March, we committed to begin building this unprecedented network and technology ecosystem for public safety later this year,” Chris Sambar, senior vice president of AT&T – FirstNet, said in a June 19 statement. “Later begins now. States, territories and public safety have expressed their desire to move quickly.”

As of Friday, 10 states had opted in: Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. The U.S. Virgin Islands territory has signed on as well.

According to the Washington Post report, FirstNet has set a series of deadlines for states that began Friday, which was the cutoff to provide comments or ask questions. In mid-September, FirstNet will notify states that they have 90 days left to make a decision. Mid-December is the final deadline to opt in. 

Promises and Concerns

FirstNet is not intended to replace traditional radio dispatching, but due to bandwidth shortages, it is viewed by many as a much-needed supplement that will offer more reliable communication and new methods of communicating, aside from just voice.

Network security will be paramount, due to the private and sensitive nature of some emergency communications. AT&T has pledged to create “the most secure network on Earth” – one that is as bulletproof as possible with security centers that are dedicated solely to monitoring it.

Still, some first responders have reservations. The Washington Post article pointed to concerns about the cost of purchasing phones for officers and firefighters – many of whom do not have department-issued smartphones now – and paying for the subscription plans. Thus far, AT&T has not released plan or pricing details.

Some agencies also have reservations because they’ve purchased wireless service plans from other carriers. Joining FirstNet would require committing time and money to switch.

Partners and Integrators

AT&T certainly won’t be alone in getting the network off the ground. Partners like Motorola, for one, have signed on to provide mobile apps, software and services for FirstNet as part of AT&T’s team.

A slew of developers are expected to begin creating apps for the network’s smartphones now that the launch is imminent.

FirstNet has compiled a list of hundreds of vendors that have expressed interest in subcontracting or partnering on project requests for proposals (RFPs). Although the deadline to get on the list has passed, being on the list is not a requirement to submit a proposal or participate in an RFP related to the the project.

A cellular network like this is long over due. First responders have to be able to communicate during a crisis. Hopefully, all the other states in the country get on board with this ASAP.

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Opioids, The New Hazardous Material

Opioids are everywhere

In our continuing effort to post information about what are first responders are doing and what they have to face, I wanted put this out about opioids. This is an ever growing problem in this country.

It is amazing how bad the abuse of opioids have become. They are to easily prescribed and to accessible.

The following is an article from the Eagle-Tribune:

LAWRENCE, Mass. —The discovery of three men who overdosed on illicit drugs in a Garden Street home earlier this month triggered an intense response from firefighters specially trained in handling hazardous-material incidents.

Backed by local police, firefighters and paramedics, the investigation exceeded six hours and carried an estimated price tag of $75,000. Testing revealed the three men had overdosed, two of them fatally, on a mixture of cocaine and fentanyl, a man-made opioid 50 times stronger than morphine.

In the wake of the overdoses, and the public response that followed, Fire Chief Brian Moriarty is asking for some guidance at the state level.

Going forward, Moriarty said he thinks firefighters need standards and protocols to follow when they handle overdoses that may involve highly toxic substances. The fear on Garden Street that morning was the men had overdosed on either fentanyl or carfentanil, an even stronger man-made opioid that can be toxic to someone merely in its presence.

“I definitely think this needs to be reviewed… It’s always safer to have an abundance of caution than to ignore it. But we need to work on the future of how we are going to handle this,” Moriarty said.

He explained that for years firefighters have used universal precautions—gloves, masks and eye goggles—when they respond to medical aid calls, including reports of overdoses.

Now, when are those universal precautions sufficient? he asked.

“We need more education and training,” said Moriarty, who contacted the state’s Division of Fire Services and the state fire marshal. He said state officials were receptive to his request and planned to discuss the matter further.

Current policy calls for police and fire chiefs to weigh the necessity of a heightened overdose response and then notify the state if specialized services, such as a hazmat team or bomb squad, are needed, according to James DeSimone, spokesman for the state’s Division of Fire Services.

“Basically, it’s case by case on the local level. They made the decision if they feel they need our services… We are not responding to every overdose,” DeSimone said.

At 6 a.m., Monday, July 17, rescuers responded to a two-family home at 194 Garden St. after the homeowner called police to report cocaine he ingested may have been laced with “carfentanil,” Fitzpatrick said.

Officers arrived to find two men dead and the survivor, Jorge Contreras, 33, in need of immediate medical treatment.

Fitzpatrick said Contreras told police he “thought it was straight cocaine.”

“He said, ‘I took it and I knew something was wrong because I was getting all groggy,'” Fitzpatrick said. “He said, ‘I snorted it and all of a sudden my body starting shutting down.'”

Contreras remained hospitalized this week and may have suffered some nerve damage due to the overdose, Fitzpatrick said.

Similarly to firefighters, Fitzpatrick said police officers will “glove up” and wear protective masks when responding to overdoses or other drug calls. At times, officers encounter what appears to be a narcotics “mill operation or packaging area” and have contacted hazardous materials experts.

Fitzpatrick said Lawrence detectives in the Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit have worked with Drug Enforcement Administration agents who have training in hazardous materials response.

The overdoses at 194 Garden St. remain under investigation as detectives try to ascertain where and from whom the men obtained the cocaine-laced with fentanyl.

No similar overdoses were reported in Lawrence during the past two weeks.

With the exception of the Garden Street overdoses, Fitzpatrick said the department has not encountered many cases where cocaine was combined with fentanyl.

In June, however, the New York City Health Department issued a warning to cocaine users, “even occasional users,” that fentanyl had been implicated in a growing number of cocaine-involved deaths.

“In the past, fentanyl has been commonly present in heroin-involved deaths but fentanyl is increasingly being identified in other overdose deaths involving other drugs,” according to the alert.

In Lawrence, while Jorge Contreras, 33, survived the overdose, his brother who shared the same name, Jorge Contreras, 31, died. Joel Rodriguez, 26, also died.

The second floor of 194 Garden St., where the overdoses occurred, were sanitized by a professional cleaning company before the building could be inhabited again.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration, in recent alerts, warned that carfentanil and other fentanyl-related compounds are a serious danger to public safety workers, including first-responders, medical and laboratory personnel, and others.

“These substances can come in several forms, including powder, blotter paper, tablets, and spray—they can be absorbed through the skin or accidental inhalation of airborne powder,” the DEA warned.

Signs of carfentanil and fentanyl exposure include respiratory depression or arrest, drowsiness, disorientation, sedation, pinpoint pupils, and clammy skin. The onset of these symptoms usually occurs within minutes of exposure.

The antidote for opioid overdose is Naloxone, also known as Narcan, which is administered through nasal canisters.

Illegal doses of heroin have been combined with both fentanyl and carfentanil, triggering overdoses.

The New York City Health Department also issued a warning in June to cocaine users warning them fentanyl has been implicated in a growing number of overdose deaths, as was the case in three overdoses—two of which were fatal—in Lawrence on July 17, 2017.

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Virtual Training Prepares First Responders For An Active Shooter

Active Shooter Drills

We like to spread the word about things that assist our first responders to be better trained and prepared for bad situations. An active shooter scenario can be very chaotic and dynamic situation. The following article was put out by DHS last month.

Amidst the chaos of an active shooter event, preparedness is key to a seamless, swift and effective response—and a new video game funded by the DHS S&T and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory just might do the trick. Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, or EDGE, is a virtual training platform, available now to all response agencies nationwide. Built on the Unreal Engine, it allows responders of all disciplines to assume discipline-based avatars and simultaneously role-play complex response scenarios.

Amidst the chaos of an active shooter event, preparedness is key to a seamless, swift and effective response—and a new video game funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory just might do the trick.

S&T says that Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, orEDGE, is a virtual training platform, available now to all response agencies nationwide. Built on the Unreal Engine, it allows responders of all disciplines to assume discipline-based avatars and simultaneously role-play complex response scenarios. The first scenario, an incident at a local hotel, brings law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, dispatch, and unified command together to combat an active shooter also armed with fiery Molotov cocktails.

“We developed the EDGE virtual environment to be completely true-to-life,” explained Milt Nenneman, Program Manager in S&T’s First Responders Group. “Everything from the hotel lobby to the elevators to the boiler rooms to the bedspreads in the guest quarters, was built completely to scale.” The scenario is based on a real hotel in Sacramento, where the program was piloted with local response agencies.

EDGE also features authentic response vehicles, tools, and personal protective equipment. The training is not pre-scripted; most EDGEavatars—including the actual shooter—are controlled by the responders themselves using agency-standard operating procedures to guide all training outcomes. Responders navigate their avatars as they would act in a real emergency, responding to threats according to their department’s policies.”

The beauty of EDGE is it was designed to allow a single agency to train its staff or multiple agencies can train together across disciplines and jurisdictions for a more synchronized response. And, unlike real-world training exercises, EDGE doesn’t cost money for agencies to travel to a single location—they can conduct the training from their own home stations. The goal: improve coordination and communication before an active shooter or other catastrophic event happens in order to mitigate injuries and loss of lives during a live response. 

All actions are determined by first responders’ own decisions in the environment, which means the game can play out differently depending on the specific training exercise and first responders’ actions. Because of the open sandbox, a department’s instructors can create any event or scenario to reinforce their training curriculum.

“These days, it is essential that responders have every tool at their disposal to prepare for and respond to critical incidents,” Nenneman added. “Those first at the scene must make decisions in a flash, and in those initial moments every bit of training helps to save civilian and responder lives.”

S&T and the Army plan to release a second EDGE active shooter training scenario using a school as the backdrop later this year. Like the hotel scenario, the school shooting environment will be available for free to all first responder agencies and personnel charged with school (and student) protection.

“These types of incidents are now an unfortunate reality, and when schools come under fire everybody becomes a first responder,” Nenneman said. “This EDGE scenario was created to train staff on the critical steps to take, whether corralling students for a quick exit to a safe location or barricading classrooms before responders arrive on the scene.”

The EDGE school environment will be released in fall 2017.

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Not All First Responders Have Two Legs

World Trade Center Search

When most of us think of first responders, we often think of a firefighter or police officer. The four legged variety isn’t usually what comes to mind. However, mention September 11, 2001 and almost everyone can remember watching dogs on television searching for survivors in the rubble.

Reports vary wildly regarding how many dogs actually participated in the search operations. Depending on what you read, upwards of 900 dogs were involved in the rescue mission. Some reports say 300. Some say 100. I don’t think it really matters how many were ultimately there. They all played a vital role.

The dogs and their handlers worked an average of 10 days for 12 to 16 hours at a time. Not all of them were searching for survivors or remains. Many were present just to comfort their two legged counterparts.

The canines of Pennsylvania Task Force One at Ground Zero

Last Summer, the final 9-11 rescue dog was laid to rest. Bretagne made it to almost 17yrs old. This is pretty amazing considering what these rescue dogs went through. Many suffered physical injuries from traversing the multiple piles of rubble. One of the most interesting things I found about the dogs was they actually helped prevent human first responders from getting PTSD.

First responders from all over the world use dogs for post natural disaster operations. They have been used in the aftermath of tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods. Furthermore, dogs are used in war torn countries to search for victims of bombings.

It is important to support first responders for all of the tough work they do. In addition, don’t forget to remember the four-legged responders as well. Dogs are pretty amazing creatures. Studies have recently discovered how similar their brains are to our own.

They help us find survivors, provide comfort to the elderly, keep us safe and serve as our companions. Kopis Mobile supports all first responders regardless of how many legs they have.

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