ALPHARETTA, GA — Verizon Wireless, owner and operator of the nation's most reliable wireless network, has been called upon by state officials to serve as a vital communications link for first responders in the areas affected by the extreme drought and forest fire conditions impacting South Central and Southeast Georgia. After Governor Perdue declared a State Emergency Declaration May 2, 2007 for 21 counties, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) set up an operation command center at the Wayne County Airport in Jesup. Verizon Wireless has committed resources to be the primary means of communication for the GEMA command.
The company's network team mobilized today to ensure reliable connection for the emergency operation there and plans to have extended network operations onsite with a COW (Cells on Wheels) as early as today. Verizon Wireless COWs (Cells on Wheels) are self-contained mobile cell sites specifically designed for rapid and short-term response. These mobile cell sites can process thousands of calls an hour, enabling more emergency response teams and residents to use their wireless phones concurrently.
"We know how important wireless communication is before, during and after an emergency situation. We work year-round to ensure that our network is ready when natural disasters hit, whether it is wildfires or any other severe weather occurrence. We've invested more than $100 million to date in 2007 in Georgia and Alabama," said Jeff Mango, president of Verizon Wireless Georgia/Alabama region. "The Verizon Wireless network is built for reliability in emergencies, with battery back-up power at all facilities and generators installed at all switching facilities and most cell site locations. We're proud to work with local and state officials to help keep lines of communication open when it's most needed."
Verizon Wireless also offers residents of South Georgia these tips to help them be safe during times of crisis:
- Keep wireless phone batteries charged in case local power is lost.
- Have additional charged batteries and car-charger adapters available for back-up power.
- Keep phones, batteries, chargers and other equipment in a dry, cool, accessible location.
- Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers police, fire and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers; etc. and program them into your phone.
- Distribute wireless phone numbers to family members and friends.
- Program into your phone In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact and number so others have that information about you if needed.
- Consider text messaging when volume of wireless phone usage is high and ability to carry a conversation is limited.
- Forward your home phone calls to your wireless number if you will be away from your home or have to evacuate.
Editors' Note: High-resolution stills of the Verizon Wireless COW and COLT are available in the Verizon Wireless Image Library at http://www.verizonwireless.com/news.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 60.7 million customers. The largest US wireless company and largest wireless data provider, based on revenues, Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 66,000 employees nationwide. The company is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.