Making a Difference:
KET DataCast


This system allows us to make the training not only more efficient but also more consistent. It allows us to address critical problems immediately.

Capt. Tony Cipolla

Louisville Metro Fire Department

Minutes, even seconds, can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. For first responders, ongoing training is the key to trimming response times and saving more lives.

With 600 firefighters spread out over Louisville, though, it used to take the Louisville Fire Department at least three weeks to provide them with just one or two hours of training. Now that same training takes only three days.

The difference is the result of a cooperative venture between KET and the Louisville Fire Department called the Emergency Responders Training Network. The state-of-the-art wireless system allows Louisville officials to broadcast live and recorded video, emergency news and alerts, and other information to more than 80 urban and suburban fire stations, police substations, and other emergency responder locations in Metro Louisville.

The system also allows firefighters to set up cameras at an emergency scene to broadcast on-site footage back to other emergency responders who are managing the situation from a control center.

The heart of this system is KET DataCast. Datacasting allows large amounts of data—including text, graphics, maps, photos, and even video—to be sent to an unlimited number of recipients anywhere in the state via KET’s network of digital transmitters. KET is one of 17 public television stations across the nation to test Phase 2 of a national Digital Emergency System.

In fact, KET DataCast is a reliable delivery system with virtually limitless possibilities. It just takes a little imagination and sometimes a little inspiration, as Tony Cipolla, a Louisville fire training commander, can attest. Cipolla came up with the idea for the Emergency Responders Training Network.

“I was home one Sunday with my daughter, Rosie, watching Sesame Street,” Cipolla said. “The program had just ended and a spot came on about datacasting and how it was being used at rest stops to provide them with weather and alerts.

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“That spurred my thinking. We needed that exact kind of information. I called Ryan Jarrell immediately and told him to remind me to talk to him about KET when I got to work Monday morning.”

That two-hour conversation quickly led to action.

“After RJ and I talked about it, I took the idea to the Office of Homeland Security and got the grant money to make it happen,” Cipolla said. “That money [$348,000 in federal Urban Area Security Initiative grants] paid for the equipment needed to take the information and convert it into the form of technology needed to push it through the DataCast system.

“RJ was the bull that pushed this along,” Cipolla said. “He and the staff at KET did most of the work on the technical end. Without him and the KET staff, this never would have been close to happening.”

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson has praised the system, noting that Louisville is the first city in the state to deploy such a system.

And it won’t be the last, if Cipolla and KET have anything to say about it.

“This is technology we hope to use to spread consistent information across the state,” the captain said. “We would like to enhance the statewide effort between the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medicine and the Kentucky State Fire Commission and expand the network across the state. This system allows us to make the training not only more efficient but also more consistent. It allows us to address critical problems immediately.”