Base receives new rapid response vehicle

14 Jul 2003 | Cpl. Ryan S. Scranton

Communication Support Division personnel are working with a new rapid response system to increase emergency response capabilities both on and off the base.

The $2.7 million truck is designed as a first-responder vehicle used to link multiple types of communication equipment in emergency situations where normal commercial communications are not available.

Marine Corps Systems Command, responsible for procuring equipment for the Marine Corps, requisitioned the vehicle the base received June 23.

"If a terrorist were to knock out communications like cellular phone towers and phone lines, emergency management personnel like the local police, Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Department of Homeland Security would still be able to communicate through this vehicle. We can link 1,000 users within a 10-mile radius," said Staff Sgt. Jason G. Chabot, base radio frequency manager.   

The vehicles can function as an operations center and put emergency management personnel in contact with each other through a dispatch system. This allows, for example, local law enforcement using a hand-held radio to talk to U.S. Department of Homeland Security personnel on a cellular phone. Base officials plan to use the system to aid in response to terrorist attacks, hurricanes and other emergency situations in any state east of the Mississippi, according to Chabot.

"This vehicle would be a critical component during any disaster, especially one with the magnitude of September 11. It could have circumvented police and firefighters not being able to talk to each other when communications were down," said Chabot.

The 27,000-pound vehicle is equipped with 100 hand-held radios, a hydraulic antennae rising nearly 60-feet, and a 20-kilowatt diesel generator that provides power to the unit. The vehicle also tracks and records communications routed through its system for investigative review.

Communications Support Division personnel are familiarizing themselves with the new vehicle and expect to fully integrate it soon, according to Chabot. 

"I was a bit skeptical at first, but now that I've been using it I've found the system's capabilities are really impressive," said Chabot.