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Voices of First Responders—Nationwide Public Safety Communication Survey Methodology: Development, Dissemination, and Demographics, Phase 2, Volume 1



Kristen Greene, Shanee T. Dawkins, Sandra S. Prettyman, Pamela J. Konkol, Mary F. Theofanos, Kevin C. Mangold, Susanne M. Furman, Michelle P. Steves


With the newly created Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), the public safety community is in the process of supplementing the use of land mobile radios (LMR) to a technology ecosystem that will include a variety of new communication tools, including a range of broadband data sharing platforms. It is imperative to have a clear understanding of first responder needs, requirements, and contexts of use in order for successful deployment and adoption of new communication technology. This report is part of a multi-phase mixed methods project that is designed to provide an in-depth look at the population of first responders, along with their work environments, their tasks, and their communication needs, with particular focus on their technology problems. In the current project phase, a large-scale, online nationwide survey of first responders in 911/Dispatch, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Fire Service, and Law Enforcement was conducted. This report details the survey methodology, including survey development and dissemination, and summarizes nationwide participant demographics. A total of 7 182 completed survey responses were received, with responses from all 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.). The survey sampling priorities were mirrored in the data, with good representation from the four public safety disciplines surveyed (911/Dispatch, EMS, Fire Service, and Law Enforcement), and a good mixture of responses from urban, suburban, and rural areas. Other demographic variables of interest—such as jurisdictional level, years of service, and age— also showed good variability, mapping well to national numbers. Such a largescale survey, with over 7 000 completed responses across the United States, represents a dataset of great relevance for the public safety community. This multi- phase, mixed methods project provides direct input from first responders about the communication technology used and needed by first responders.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 8288
Report Number


First responders, Communication technology, Public safety communication research, Survey research, Usability, User needs and requirements


Greene, K. , Dawkins, S. , Prettyman, S. , Konkol, P. , Theofanos, M. , Mangold, K. , Furman, S. and Steves, M. (2020), Voices of First Responders—Nationwide Public Safety Communication Survey Methodology: Development, Dissemination, and Demographics, Phase 2, Volume 1, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 20, 2024)


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Created March 20, 2020, Updated May 20, 2020