Iridium(R) Satellite, ProtectingAmerica.org and the American Red Cross Partner to Educate First Responders on Importance of Test

BETHESDA, Md. , April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Iridium(R) Satellite is pleased to announce its partnership with ProtectingAmerica.org and the American Red Cross to promote the second annual "Test Your Satellite Phone" Week kicking off May 25, 2008 . The...


BETHESDA, Md. , April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Iridium(R) Satellite is pleased to announce its partnership with ProtectingAmerica.org and the American Red Cross to promote the second annual "Test Your Satellite Phone" Week kicking off May 25, 2008 . The goal of "Test Your Satellite Phone" Week is to increase satellite phone user knowledge and help users confirm their access to the critical communication services satellite phones provide before they're needed in an emergency. ProtectingAmerica.org is a non-profit organization consisting of emergency management officials, first responders, disaster relief experts, insurers and others. Its mission is to establish a comprehensive, integrated national catastrophe management solution that will better prepare America. The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

"ProtectingAmerica.org is pleased to participate in this important initiative and commends Iridium Satellite for ensuring that our emergency workers are prepared to make that critical call during a disaster," said James Lee Witt , ProtectingAmerica.com national co-chair and former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Too often, emergency workers turn on their satellite phone for the first time after disaster strikes to find they do not know how to use it properly, the batteries are not charged, their service is substandard or the phone won't connect."

"We've seen first-hand what happens when cities and towns are cut off from all communication during a disaster," said Joseph Becker , executive vice president, response and recovery, American Red Cross. "Taking precautions like testing your satellite phone can help save lives and property and we're happy to support this initiative by encouraging the first responders around the country to take heed."

Similar to the popular bi-annual testing of smoke alarms, "Test Your Satellite Phone" Week is intended to ensure that first responders know how to use their satellite phones and that they are, in fact, ready for use. Iridium, the American Red Cross and ProtectingAmerica.org hope to raise awareness of what first responders and commanders can do to be better prepared prior to disasters.

"Routine testing of emergency equipment, including satellite phones is critical to any emergency preparedness planning," said Iridium board member Tom Ridge , the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and a two-term governor of Pennsylvania . "No phone is going to be effective unless users know how to operate it and the batteries are charged."

"Satellite phones have increasingly become the primary or backup communications tools during a disaster when cellular infrastructure and radio towers are down," said Matt Desch , chairman and CEO, Iridium Satellite. "Iridium is happy to have the assistance of ProtectingAmerica.org and the American Red Cross in spreading this important message to the first responder community."

The "Test Your Satellite Phone" Week initiative launched last year as a public service campaign to educate all satellite phone users about the importance of knowing how to use their phone and knowing that the phone is ready to connect when used. This has become increasingly more important as other mobile satellite phone providers have seen a drop in reliability and connection rates. Independent testing has verified that Iridium's first-time connection rate is better than 99 percent.

The "Test Your Satellite Phone" Week campaign asks all satellite phone owners to call a special number -- 00-1-480-752-5105 -- to test their satellite phones. Callers will hear a recorded message confirming that their call was completed and offering quick tips on proper handset usage. Iridium customers are not charged for air time on their satellite phone when calling this number; other satellite phone services may charge usage fees if they are not participating in the service. If customers find that their phones are not operational through this process, they should call their service provider for trouble-shooting.

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