Last month, Hurricane Irma ravaged Florida and the Caribbean, a massive storm that overwhelmed millions of people in its path.
In response to the devastating weather event, Motorola Solutions, through its communications systems, staff and officials, took the lead in a variety of ways — as responders and volunteers — to help those most affected in the moments that mattered.
Irma made landfall Sept. 10 as a Category 4 storm in the lower Keys, bringing fierce winds and damage mostly from flooding and fallen trees to a vast section of South Florida from Miami through Naples and up the Gulf Coast.
In some areas, power and internet were not fully restored until nearly 10 days later, with much of the state still reeling more than a month after Irma hit.
For example, Miami-Dade County collected more than two million cubic yards of storm-related debris through Oct. 21, with 3 million cubic yards of debris in Miami, according to the Miami-Dade County Department of Solid Waste Management.
Following natural disasters such as Irma — as well as Hurricanes Harvey and Maria — members of Motorola Solutions’ response team tirelessly worked to ensure radio communications stayed up and running, working around the clock to make its customers whole again.
A week ahead of Irma’s landfall, Motorola Solutions proactively reached out Florida customers to help prepare and meet all needs. Workers tested generators, located extra equipment, and verified systems were in good working order. When needed, Motorola also sent extra supplies and resources with radios, batteries and more.
During the Irma, Motorola was standby through a staging area in Rome, Georgia, to deliver truckloads of gear — everything from spare radios and batteries to replacement antennas and transmission lines, generators and satellite phones.
At its Plantation facility, the company also staged response teams made up of electricians, technicians, tower crews, logistical support and company leaders. When deployed, those teams were equipped with supplies to be self-sustained for at least 7 days, with a possibility for resupply — including a 10,000-gallon fuel tanker, food and accommodations. They also came prepared to help with not just equipment needs, but also bringing comfort items for victims of Irma, like air mattresses.
While on site, Motorola Solutions staff stayed in contact with local authorities, 911 centers, emergency management authorities and regional emergency operations centers to assess needs and offer aid. Those staff members were granted the authority to make decisions in the field, so they could get the job done as quickly as possible.
In total, more than 200 Motorola Solutions employees were on hand to help Floridians recover from the effects of Hurricane Irma.
Another story of success in Irma’s aftermath was in Monroe County.
On September 12, less than 48 hours after Irma’s arrival in Monroe County, Miami-Dade police escorted Motorola triage response team members during an initial supply run to the county line. From there, team members inspected several locations while moving south through the Keys, and was the first such team to reach the site in North Key Largo.
During inspections, workers faced a series of blocked roads, where they helped clear debris and cut paths to previously unreachable locations, including Long Key and Sugar Loaf Key. Motorola staff were also in charge of reporting generator fuel levels to Monroe County officials, and refilled generator fuel tanks when possible.
Following Irma, the primary site at the 911 center in Marathon — which allowed officials throughout all of Monroe County to communicate directly with each other — was down after a power outage at the facility. After the local utility decided the master center was a repair priority, Motorola worked closely with electricians on site to restore power quickly.
By the end of Motorola’s first day of access in Monroe County, the system was brought back online areawide.
With most of the Keys without power or cell service in immediately after Irma, Motorola Solutions also programmed radios for Homeland Security agents, allowing them to communicate with Monroe County officials to better assess the situation on the ground.
Motorola Solutions enables public safety agencies and businesses to communicate and work more efficiently. Connecting millions of people through devices, networks and software are essential for them to do their jobs and create safe, thriving communities.
When it comes to staying connected during a disaster, Motorola Solutions’ land mobile radios (LMR) and infrastructure provide reliable technology, to support mission-critical voice communications in life-or-death situations across the country.
From hurricanes like Harvey, Irma and Maria, to blizzards, earthquakes and forest fires, land mobile radios offer the performance to keep responders and citizens safe.
First responders in Pinellas County relied on Motorola Solutions radio systems — featuring data-sharing capabilities — to stay connected during Irma. When storm winds reached 40 miles per hour, dispatchers were prevented from sending off rescue teams. Nevertheless, Motorola personnel were there to help perform “CPR on the phone” with doctors in the call center. During and after the crisis, responders reported never experienced a single transmission drop.
In nearby Coral Springs, a pregnant woman went into labor during the storm, calling 911. Taking an armored vehicle to navigate the storm damage, first responders, using Motorola Solutions radios, helped with a safe delivery for the mother and her baby girl.
“Radios were crystal-clear” during the incident, one county official said afterward.
Motorola radios — with push-to-talk connectivity — were also essential for the Lake County Sheriff Department, taking advantage of backup generators to stay connected before, during and after the storm.
“There was a 228 percent increase in push-to-talk communications between county and local police from the day before Irma hit to the day of the hurricane,” said Public Safety Communications Director Greg Holcomb. With push-to-talk, Lake County’s radio system connects users in less than a second, which could mean the difference between life and death.
“In that time, there were no sites down, no outages and all LMR communications worked flawlessly,” Holcomb said.
Following the storm, backup generators powered the radio systems’ 18 network sites, some running nonstop six days.
“Our officers were working in flood-prone areas, and in those areas, LMR was the only communication working,” Holcomb added.
As for individual Motorola employees in Florida, many either donated or volunteered for post-Irma relief efforts.
Evacuated ahead of Irma, Motorola Solutions’ Plantation facility reopened four days later as a collection site for necessity items to be the benefit of the South Florida Red Cross, including toiletries, cleaning kits, air mattresses, blankets, clothes and more.
Continuing its commitment to provide technology to first responders and public safety workers worldwide, the Motorola Solutions Foundation is working with the American Red Cross for financial support for communities affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as the earthquakes in Mexico.
To date, the Foundation has committed $85,000 to the Red Cross’ relief efforts, with employees donating more than $100,000. The money was on top of $320,000 in Motorola Solutions Foundation grants provided to Red Cross programs in Chicago, Florida, California and worldwide.