Mobile command centers to aid public safety efforts in Carroll

Two grants help purchase units for serious incidents


April 22, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Carroll County will be equipped for large-scale emergencies this fall when officials take delivery of the first of two mobile command centers that will serve as technological bases of operations for law enforcement and fire officials.

Two federal grants worth more than $600,000 have been awarded to the Carroll County Sheriff's Office and the county Office of Public Safety to buy two state-of-the-art vehicles that should be ready for use this fall.

The command centers are staples in surrounding counties, where the units have been used for emergencies, such as the recent tanker explosion on Interstate 95 in Howard County and an August airplane crash in Harford County.

But money to buy the vehicles wasn't available in Carroll until the Department of Homeland Security authorized federal money.

The vehicles are equipped with computers, a dispatch center, workstations, satellite uplinks and video cameras.

They are used as a central meeting place for police, fire and rescue units that respond to emergencies, including hazardous material spills and hostage situations.

Carroll's first mobile command center was ordered by the Sheriff's Office as part of a $359,000 homeland security grant. A large chunk of that grant - $220,000 - was set aside to buy emergency response suits for sheriff's deputies and municipal police officers.

The Sheriff's Office used the remaining grant money and additional federal funds for the $255,000 mobile command vehicle. Maj. Thomas Long of the Sheriff's Office said the vehicle is required for all local law enforcement agencies that adopt the national incident management system that was created to deal with disasters and terror attacks.

Carroll has created a custom-built bus, based on Harford County's model. The mobile command units are recreational vehicles outfitted with the latest in technological equipment.

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