Health and Family Services Cabinet
State Health Department First to Host National Public Health and Safety Satellite Network Channels

Press Release Date:  Friday, January 23, 2009  
Contact Information:  Barbara Fox or Vikki Franklin,
(502) 564-6786 Ext. 4411 or 3325

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 23, 2009) – The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) announced today that it will serve as the first host of three national satellite radio network channels dedicated to communications among state and local public health agencies, hospital and healthcare organizations, and emergency medical service agencies in Kentucky and across the nation.      
     The nationwide satellite mutual aid radio talkgroup program allows public safety agencies to move across their town, state or region without losing critical communications. Public health and emergency medical service agencies authorized by DPH and the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) are able to participate in a nationwide two-way satellite radio conversation.
     DPH will be responsible for accepting applications to participate in the national public health satellite mutual aid radio talkgroups from public health and EMS agencies across the country. After validating the application it will be sent to the SkyTerra Operations Center and processed to allow the requested channel to be downloaded via satellite to the requesting agency’s communication equipment. Around-the-clock monitoring of the channel is being facilitated with KBEMS and at the Medical Center EMS Dispatch Center in Bowling Green.
     “We are honored that DPH has been selected to lead the way as host for the nation’s first satellite mutual aid radio network channels dedicated to health and emergency medical services,” said William Hacker, M.D., commissioner of public health. “This clearly shows that our hard work, dedication and knowledge of satellite radio network operations in support of public health and safety has been recognized at the national level and puts our state on the forefront of communication solutions, regional partnerships and preparedness planning. These network channels provide public service organizations a rapid and reliable tool for interoperable communication required for both daily operations and during emergencies.”
      The program features unique push-to-talk satellite technology, allowing each group member to listen or join the conversation taking place over the talkgroup. Three satellite mutual aid radio talkgroup (SMART) channels, NPHST-1, NPHST-2, and E-SMART will be available anywhere in the U.S. and could be the only form of communication for a public health agency or an Emergency Medical Service (EMS) team deployed to assist during a disaster, as demonstrated in fall 2008 during hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
      “The Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services is excited to partner with DPH to serve as a national host site for this project,” said Charles O'Neal, executive director of KBEMS. “The capabilities and benefits of the satellite radio technology have already been proven during in-state and national disaster operations where Kentucky EMS units have been deployed. Reliable, redundant communications are an essential element to successful disaster operations and having this capability with EMS units nationwide will serve to enhance our ability to coordinate assets in large scale emergencies. We are deeply appreciative of the commitment from       
Medical Center EMS in Bowling Green to help monitor this critical communications link.”
       Additional SMART programs are available at no additional cost to SkyTerra customers on their satellite communications network for different public safety disciplines including law enforcement and the fire service.