Columbia County officials gathered Dec. 17 to show off their two new acquisitions paid for by Homeland Security grants.
Columbia County Emergency Management Director Pam Tucker demonstrates the camera system mounted on the Mobile Operations Command unit for Tammy John (center) and Virginia Berkhimer. Homeland Security grants paid for the new vehicles and supplies.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Pam Tucker, the county's emergency services director, led the morning dedication of the county's Mobile Operations Center.
"It's an honor to have this in Columbia County," said County Commission Chairman Ron Cross.
The wide-body RV was built as a mobile 911 center and incident command center, with enough room for six 911 dispatchers and a supervisor, weather stations, radio communications and a high-resolution zooming camera mounted on a 35-foot telescoping pole.
The $448,620 vehicle, built by North American Catastrophe Services Inc., was paid for in full by a Homeland Security grant awarded to the county in 2003.
The vehicle provides the ability to talk to nearly all other agencies, including marine and aviation organizations, except the military, Tucker said.
"We've never had an exercise where communications was not a problem," Tucker said. "For us, that will not be a problem anymore because we'll be able to talk to everybody."
The Emergency Services fleet dedicated another new addition recently - a 16-by-8-foot enclosed trailer loaded with emergency equipment.
The trailer and its contents, valued at $25,000, were purchased with a second Homeland Security grant for the county's Citizens Emergency Response Team.
"(The Department of Homeland Security) funds our CERT program with a grant, and this is just something extra on top of that," Tucker said. "Training is the first step, then getting them the equipment they need to do the job is the next step.''
The emergency response course, which was completed by 86 people in 2004, covers such things as emergency preparedness, fire safety, emergency medical response and light search and rescue.
When emergencies happen, team members provide critical support to first responders, give immediate assistance to victims and organize spontaneous volunteers at a disaster site. Members also help with non-emergency projects to help make the community safer.
Though each member has an emergency bag in his or her vehicle, the trailer is stocked with extra equipment, tools and machinery needed at scenes, officials say. It arrived loaded with a generator, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration alert radio, portable radios, fire extinguishers, bull horns, a training mannequin, tools and a canopy tent.
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