Floods and High Winds Impact Choctaw Nation

Tim Karney on June 22, 2017, 6:00 am

As fate would have it, the Emergency Manager of Haskell County’s first day on the job was that day. The county’s resources were quickly stretched to the maximum so they reached out to The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma for assistance.

Covering an area of almost 11,000 square miles, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is largely rural, with areas with limited cellular infrastructure.

Arriving on the scene, Jeff Hansen, the Director of the Office of Emergency Management for the Choctaw Nation, found that his cellular phone could not get a signal. Luckily, at the time, he was testing a Plum Case® Extended remote access device.  Activating the Plum Case®, he could quickly connect to his networks. This connectivity enabled them to file all the necessary paperwork to secure assistance for the victims.

During the Memorial Day weekend, the area around Clayton, Oklahoma was hit by strong winds that caused significant damage.

“There was a big storm system moving through the area”, said Hansen. “It was a tornado warned event so I was watching radar all afternoon and evening. I saw a very big bow echo on the radar so I knew the winds were extremely high. When we got there, all the damage was facing the same direction so I knew it was a straight-line wind. I looked back at some radar data and we picked up winds with between 80 and 100 miles per hour signatures.”

 

“We had over 65 people come into our EOC for assistance. About half of those were Choctaw Nation tribal members, the other half were not. In an incident like this, we provide assistance to everyone, regardless if they are a tribal member or not.”, Hansen added.

The Plum Case® Extended provided high-speed internet access to 8 workers in the mobile EOC which enabled them to quickly process all the necessary intake forms and other paperwork. Hansen said, “It’s very easy to set up, just plug in the battery and flip the switch. Within five minutes we have a secure wifi network.”

Since these events, The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has acquired two Plum Case® Extended units. One of the key advantages of the Extended unit is that it has two internal routers. Each router has SIMs for a different cellular carrier, creating dual path capability. Because the area of the Choctaw Nation is so large, they requested that one Extended have Verizon and ATT SIMS, and the other Extended have Verizon and U.S. Cellular SIMS.

“There’s not a lot of cellular infrastructure in much of our area because it is so rural and lightly populated. The region has a lot of large hills so you can get down in a valley very quickly and not be able to get a signal with just a cell phone. Having the Plum Cases® set up for the carriers in different parts of our region gives us the highest probability of getting a useable signal.”, according to Hansen. Once the proper SIMs are installed, the Plum Case® automatically downloads the necessary firmware to operate on the carrier’s system.

He was extremely pleased with the low acquisition cost of the two Plum Case® Extended units compared to the major investment that would have been required to purchase a satellite system for voice and data. “We had been looking at putting a satellite system on our mobile EOC. That would have required between $50,000 and $100,000 of investment plus the expensive data charges. Acquiring a Plum Case® with many of the same capabilities, and sometimes better capabilities was a no-brainer.”, said Hansen.

For more information on Plum Laboratories and its entire line of continuity of operations and remote access solutions, visit www.plumlaboratories.com.

Organizations interested in testing a Plum Case® should contact John Deering, Director of Technical Services at jdeering@plumcases.com or call him at (615) 484-7255.

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