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DeWitt:: Mobile command unit aids efficiency in crises

Onondaga County is equipped for critical response with its latest acquisition, the EM 50. This 38-foot vehicle, designed to serve as a mobile location for on-scene incident commanders, provides all the necessary equipment for leaders to operate in a unified command structure should a major crisis occur.

It has the ability to send and receive data as well as interoperable communications, said DeWitt Police Chief Eugene Conway in a recent letter announcing the new unit paid for by Homeland Security and grants.

Earlier this month, the DeWitt Police Department introduced the EM 50 to local business representatives.

"It's very, very important, when it comes to a critical incident, to be familiar with people," Conway said. "Equally as important to be familiar with equipment and resources."

Prior to the climate-controlled truck, emergency responders met in the back of the police chief's car, or in nearby buildings during a crisis, said Michael Huppmann, executive officer for the Onondaga County Department of Emergency Management. Now they can react and strategize together in an environment designed for long-term efficiency.

"You need to get out of the elements and get everyone to one place and create an incident action plan," Huppmann said, addressing resolution "response and recovery" as the truck's primary function.

Some features include satellite TV, a weather mast, a rear remote camera that rises on a 30-foot pole, and DVR capabilities.

"Anything that we view through the camera, we can report on the DVR and use it for playback purposes down the road," Huppmann said. "During an incident, if this happens to be close enough, the host agency can have it for review or critique."

The crew can also employ a surveillance camera, protected in a weather-proof plastic case, up to a mile away.

"The box can be dropped in a bush or behind a shrub and it will transmit back to the monitor," Huppmann said, giving examples of how law enforcement can conceal the camera if required.

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