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2014 California Mobile Command Center Rally a Success in Sacramento

Author: Randall D. Larson, Editor

Copyright: 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content,

Date: 2014-05-22
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Photos by Hitoshi Igarashi, Sue Treadwell, and Randall Larson

In cooperation with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the Northern California Chapter of APCO Int’l (NAPCO), the California Fire Chiefs Association (Communications Section - Northern Division) hosted its 6th Annual free mobile communications/command vehicle rally on Wednesday May 7th in Sacramento.  The event was held at the City’s north Corporation Yard.

A forest of antenna masts. The 2014 California Mobile Command Center Rally brought together a variety of resources from local, state, federal and military response agencies, non-government support agencies, and technology vendors - all of which work together to plan and execute incident command and communications functions during critical incidents throughout California.

As in year’s past, this event gathered together a wide variety of mobile command and communications units from around California in order to demonstrate the variety of capabilities and mutual aid operability of local and regional mobile comm units throughout the state.   In addition to standing demonstrations of mobile unit, a half dozen classroom presentations were offered on topics relevant to state-of-the-art communications technology, mobile command vehicle retrofitting, and large scale incident management. 

More than 30 mobile command vehicles of all shapes and sizes attended the annual event, from highly maneuverable cargo vans and trailers, to a number of sleek, self-contained 40’ units designed for long-term operations, to the US Coast Guard’s mobile Incident Command Post which, will pull-out sides, provides a workplace footprint of 50’ x 22’.  As always, the emphasis was on operational interoperability and recognizing the different kinds of entities that will play a part in managing any large-scale disaster or emergency with a significant government response.  In addition to local and state public safety responders for law, fire, EMS, and Search & Rescue

Left: Rally Command Staff members, left-to-right, Randall Larson (founder & Plans), Don Stabler (Operations), and Chuck Berdan (IC).

agencies, the Rally featured command and communications apparatus from the US military and federal Dept of Homeland Security, support agencies such as Cal Trans, the Office of Emergency Services, and other state departments that have a functional responsibility at a major emergency event, plus other allied and non-governmental agencies such as Pacific Gas & Electric company, and corporate emergency response support units from Cisco and Verizon – plus a number of vendor booths displaying the latest in antenna, satellite, audio-visual, and HF radio communications technologies, and companies specializing in command unit seating and mobile meal services.  In all, this year’s Rally served to exemplify the diversity of functions, technologies, and services that mobile apparatus can bring to the incident command post and the kinds of different response and support entities that can provide them.

Thanks to MCC Rally sponsors LDV, IPAccess International, Chair Pros, and 9-1-1 Magazine for their support of this event and the educational and networking opportunities among all agencies and groups that support emergency response management at the incident command post or base camp.

Next year’s MCC Rally will take place during the Western Regional APCO conference on April 8, 2015 at the Sacramento Convention Center.  See here for more details.

(CLICK on images below for larger size)

 

Left: Sutter County' heriff's MCC. Most new large-size MCCs are now equipped with slide-outs, which offer some three or more feet of interior work space when deployed.  Right: With a smaller footprint, this well-equipped mobile command center supports Placer County Sheriff and Search & Rescue.

  

Left: This unit, operated by the Salinas Fire Dept, also serves California's Monterey County Operational Area. Exterior video monitors allow for monitoring of news media as well as the unit's CCTV imaging, with an awning allowing for exterior workspace in addition to interior conference spaces. The unit is equipped with a number of radio caches and other communications systems. Right: Cisco Systems Network Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV) deploys nationwide with its Tactical Operations Team, free of charge, to support infrastructure restoration and commend/communications logistics.  Cisco's Rakesh Bharania also supplied a class on Emerging Communications Technologies. 

 

Making its first appearance at our Rally was this MCV from DHS Federal Protection Service. The FPS is responsible for protecting property owned, occupied, and secured by the US Government as well as the people on that property. The MCV program supports the FPD mission through the provision of mobile, on-site platforms for command, control, and communications during terrorist attacks, natural disasters, National Special Security Events, and other similar occurrences. This is one of several large mobile units operated by the FPS.

 

Left: The Mobile Interoperability Gateway Unit (MIGU) is a resource developed from collaborative efforts of several resources using Homeland Security Grant funds. It is used for establishing interoperability among disparate public safety radio systems at the scene of major incidents. There are six (6) MIGUs, administered by the California Office of Emergency Services (formerly Emergency Management Agency) that can be deployed from any one of its six locations around the state to support Operational Area public safety agencies requesting mutual aid for assistance with interoperable communications. Right: This California National Guard Emergency Communications unit carries an impressive array of high-tech comm systems in a small and easily accessible footprint.

The Kern County Fire Dept. operates this California Office of Emergency Services (formerly Emergency Management Agency) command unit, which supports mutual aid command and communications throughout the southern end of California's Central Valley region.  A pair of pull-outs, nice big awning, and exterior video monitor makes for a very workable command post unit with plenty of work space inside and out.

 

Left: In addition to its LDV command unit, the Palo Alto Police Dept also brought a pair of pickup trucks housing a number of additional communications systems and radio caches. Satellite dishes were prevalent on most new MCCs, providing additional communications functionality to the units. Right: This LDV unit from the Sunnyvale Dept of Public Safety (combined police/fire dept) connected with the Palo Alto Police Mobile EOC and vendors such as NVIS to demonstrate effective interoperability to support communications and coordination during major incident opts.

 

Left: Comm Trailer used by ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) in El Dorado County provides a large, open workspace to support incident opts.  Right: The California Dept of Water Resources is an allied support agency to public safety response. This command trailer is deployed by the DWR to support communications and coordination during water-related emergencies.

One row of the 2014 Rally was dedicated to vendor booths, displays, and demonstrations. IP Access International also sponsored two lunch wagons, providing free meals to attendees and staff.

 

Left: The San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Com Support 131 operates both locally and through the state mutual aid system. Built on a Spartan Fire Engine chassis to match the agency's rolling stock, the unit has served the FPD for ten years and remains state-of-the-art in most of its functionality. See our previous background story on this unit here.  Right: New to the Rally this year was this unique command trailer from Butte County's North Valley Animal Disaster Group, now partnered with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Recognizing the importance of supporting the rescue of animals and pets during disaster response, this unit provides a unique resource to coordinate the evacuation and sheltering of domestic animals during disaster activations. For more information, see www.animaldisaster.org or www.facebook.com/nvadg

 

Left: New to the California MCC Rally this year was this nicely-equipped mobile command trailer from the Colussa County Sheriff's Office. Right:  Mast-hoisted CCTV systems are also standard on most modern MCCs. allowing elevated 360-degree views and recorded imaging of incident scenes. This unit, from the San Francisco Sheriff's Office, is equipped with exterior lighting systems and other command post tools.

The US Coast Guard returned to the Rally this year with its Mobile Communications Vehicle (left) and Mobile Incident Command Post (right). With its massive size enhanced by a large pull-out section, it can support major incident opts for an extended period of time.  Among the USCG's communications support systems is a pair of portable satellite units which can be set up away from the command unit itself and operated independently.

 

Left: Sonoma County Sheriff's command unit and satellite comms truck. Right: In contrast to the huge mobile command units deployed throughout CalFire's statewide regions, the agency's local Santa Clara Unit operates CDF 1629, a compact, quickly deployable comms unit staffed by the state fire deptartment's "VIPs" (Volunteers In Prevention).

 

Left: One of the most unique vehicles displayed at this year's Rally was this command trailer for the Sacramento Regional Radio Communications System, built by Charmac Trailers. Recently converted to a fuel-cell system from Altergy that powers the unit, it was the only MCC at the Rally not accompanied by the sound of a running generator!  Right: Despite limited classroom environment (the site's intended conference room became unavailable at the last moment), each of the six classes provided this year had a full attendance of interested people. Here, John Rosica and Don Irving discuss the advantages of HF (High Frequency) and NVIS (Near Vertical Incident Skywave) in providing a simple and reliable solution for backup communications over a wide regional area with no intervening infrastructure.  For more information, see their 9-1-1 Magazine article here.

 

The California Highway Patrol demonstrated once again that high-tech, high-powered comms systems don't need to come in big packages. The back end of this CPVE (Consolidated Patrol Vehicle Environment) at left contains an array of comms and interoperability systems, supported by the RRV (Rapid Response Vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe) containing a package of high-tech comm and command systems that operates as a mobile Incident Command Post Right). CHP's RRV (Rapid Response Vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe) containing a package of high-tech comm and command systems that operates as a mobile Command Post, designed for quick access on freeway incidents.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) displayed three of its mobile command units (two pictured here), demonstrating its ability to coordinate with public safety responders. The utility company also provided a class on how it interacts with local public safety responders on power, natural gas, wildfires, and other emergencies.

 

Left: Special guest instructor Hitoshi Igarashi of the Community Emergency Management Institute Japan described challenges, solutions, and lessons learned, particularly in regard to mobile command and communications, in the aftermath of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami from March 2011. Right: Supporting service and repair during highway emergencies, the California Dept of Transportation (Caltrans) operates this mobile command trailer, operating closely with CHP and other state and local emergency agencies.

 

Left: Arguably the most important mobile units on site, lunch wagons from Papa Dale's French Bayou Diner (pictured) and Sun Pizza, provided a tasty lunch for all attendees - at no cost, thanks to sponsor IP Access International.  Right: A forest of antenna masts. The 2014 Rally brought together a variety of resources from local, state, federal and military response agencies, non-government support agencies, and technology vendors - all of which work together to plan and execute incident command and communications functions during critical incidents throughout California.

Members of the planning & operations team for California's 2014 MCC Rally. L-to-R: Special Guest instructor Hitoshi Igarashi, Randall Larson (Plans), John Gleichweit (Parking/Classroom Branch), Dave Larton (Info Ofcr), Chuck Berdan (IC), Don Stabler (Opts).

 

For more information on the California Mobile Command Center Rally, see: http://www.9-1-1magazine.com/CA-MCC-Rally

Follow The California MCC Rally on Facebook here.

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