Nashville Bombing Proves the Need for Amateur Radio Emergency Communications is Higher than Ever

Christmas Day bombing of an AT&T building in Nashville proves the need for Amateur radio Emergency Communications is higher now than ever.

The communications system outage map for AT&T late Dec. 27 shows the widespread impact remaining from the Christmas Day early morning bombing affecting 9-1-1 centers, public safety, and other critical communications two days later. (Downdector.com image) .


Nearly three days after the horrific bomb attack in Nashville, Tenn., public safety emergency responder, 9-1-1, Hospital, Medical helicopter and other critical communications remain disrupted in parts of three States. One thing in common: reliance on the Internet to connect the vital communications systems.


Christmas Day’s RV bomb attack on the AT&T building in Nashville affected 9-1-1 centers, closed Nashville Airport’s FAA Traffic Control systems, affected other critical communications systems, plus Cable TV and telephone systems in at least parts of three States (Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama).


It also affected the Federal government sponsored, AT&T operated, “backup” communications system – FirstNet, which emergency responders and critical infrastructure providers nationwide depend on. So far, FirstNet has been impacted for more than two full days and counting after the explosion. “Most of the Metro Nashville Police Department’s administrators and officers use AT&T [FirstNet], and their phones went down Friday, according to spokesperson Kris Mumford.”


Medical Evacuation helicopter air traffic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the only Level I trauma center serving the region to which critically injured or ill patients are flown for advanced lifesaving care, was placed on hold due the communication outage, according to a federal agency’s report.


" Most of the Metro Nashville Police Department’s administrators and officers use AT&T [FirstNet], and their phones went down Friday."

According to news reports, AT&T FirstNet is deploying some 40 Cell systems (including pre-designed and pre-staged FirstNet trailers and vehicles) to Nashville’s Nissan Stadium to setup a temporary network. The network is expected to be at least partially operational this evening, according to AT&T updates.


Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE) President Chris Jones said in the release, “This is an unprecedented communication and member service disruption for us.” “Like many area businesses, MTE uses AT&T for telephone and online communication channels and services.”


Tennessee Governor Bill Lee called the damage “shocking” and requested a federal emergency declaration.


When other Communications Systems Fail, Amateur Radio and its ARES Emergency Communicators Work!


It means the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) still has a place and a vital role to play in today’s highly technical world. Its modern technologies, free of the need for Internet connections or other infrastructure are unmatched. When other communications systems fail, Amateur Radio and its ARES emergency communicators work!


A bomb detonated at street level in an RV proved no Internet reliant system, even one like FirstNet, built to be resilient and costing more than $46 Billion to build nationwide is immune from failure.


The Tennessee State Emergency Operations Center is at partial activation but experiencing telephone and internet outages. The main radio repeater used by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) was made inoperative because of the bomb attack’s effects.


" A bomb detonated at street level in an RV proved no Internet reliant system, even one like FirstNet, built to be resilient and costing more than $46 Billion to build nationwide is immune from failure."

ARES in Williamson County, TN, where Nashville is located, went on standby soon after the early morning explosion. The ARES Emergency Coordinator reported ARES personnel were active on analog and Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) repeaters and holding Nets, ready to deploy to the Emergency Operations Center if called upon.


The ARES group has been holding a continuous Net, relaying updates from AT&T and County governments, as well as assisting other AT&T wireless users. ARES in other Counties were similarly engaged.


The need for ARES and its modern capabilities is higher today than what it was in the 1960s and 70s, as the vulnerability of the Internet connected critical communications systems in 9-1-1 centers, Hospitals, Public Utilities, and other critical infrastructure is even higher than ever.


The Internet took us a few steps forward in what we can do as humans on Earth but made the critical communications systems even more open to attack and failure than it was in the 1970s, 80s, or 90s.


Help Wanted - Volunteers Needed!


Amateur Radio Operators with even a small amount of time free, and an FCC License (Technician Class or higher) should seriously consider affiliating with the local ARES group because help is desperately needed. The number of people willing to volunteer has diminished, yet the need is great.


In Northwestern Indiana (Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton Counties) contact Indiana ARES District 1 by emailing w1spy@arrl.net for more information.

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