Mobile command center would assist local emergency services | SummitDaily.com

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Mobile command center would assist local emergency services

SUMMIT COUNTY – Fundraising for a much-needed, $500,000 emergency-services command vehicle – complete with kitchen, restroom, satellite phones and GPS – is progressing amid a tough economy.

Local resident Tom Marmins said a $125,000 matching grant was received recently from mining company Freeport-McMoran in addition to about $10,000 already raised.

“Until there’s one major contributor, it’s very difficult to get people to commit,” Marmins said. “Everyone’s asking, ‘What do you already have?'”

Sheriff John Minor said an old, 15-passenger Summit Stage bus serves as his department’s existing command center.

“It’s probably on its last legs,” he said, adding that a “cop on light duty” had worked to “fix rust holes” and apply spray paint to the exterior.

Since efforts began three years ago, the Summit County Mobile Command Fund has become a nonprofit organization and expanded its board to seven people ranging from law enforcement to search and rescue and more. The unit would assist local fire, police, rescue and other emergency services.

Local responders can spend anywhere from a few hours to days on an emergency scene – often in sub-freezing temperatures. The command center would offer a central unit for everything from rerouting of 911 dispatch calls to restroom breaks.

“Search and rescue is predicted to be the agency that would have the most need for it,” said Summit County Rescue Group spokeswoman Anna DeBattiste, adding that such a unit could have been used at least 18 times in the past three years.

She said in the funding request that, “In eight of these cases, digital telecommunications were unavailable at the incident command post due to the remoteness of the location, and the unit would have aided communications and operations planning significantly.”

Marmins said the vehicle takes about 10 to 12 months to be custom built and would include four-wheel drive and a SMART Board. It would also include an automated system to level itself and prepare for operation.

He said examples of mobile command-worthy situations in recent years include a wildfire near Summit High School, lost snowmobilers at the north end of the county and rescue missions at Mount Quandary.

“We’re a resort community,” he said. “We’re supposed to have the equipment that we need to do what we need to do.”

Other uses include water rescues, SWAT calls, hazardous materials incidents, pandemic issues, Interstate 70 tunnel closures and more. The diesel engine on an International Harvester chassis would ascend inclines “no different than a tractor-trailer,” Marmins said.

The proposed vehicle, with designs provided by LDV, Inc. would last an estimated 20 years.

Marmins said the fundraising group has applied for a $375,000 earmark from the federal government through U.S. Rep. Jared Polis.

Minor, a Republican running this year to keep his seat, said he voted against asking for the earmark.

“I don’t believe in earmarks,” he said.

The Mobile Command Fund’s board of directors are to meet at the Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco on April 20 at 9 a.m. for presentation of the commitment from Freeport-McMoran.

Marmins said anyone interested in donating to the fund may call him at (970) 390-6393.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.