Mobile Command Center– The importance of a well-designed and built Command Center
When emergencies, natural and man-made disasters or special events requiring on-site incident command occur, a mobile command center becomes a vital component to the mission. While deploying manpower and equipment is very important, managing the situation properly and efficiently is still the most important aspect of any critical incident. Where time is of the essence, a make-shift command center on the hood of a patrol car is less than ideal. Additionally, in inclement weather and dangerous environments, command center units are very important.
As a self-contained or trailer configuration, the mobility of a command center also allows for it to be sent to wherever they may be most needed. Following are some of the most important factors to consider when evaluating a mobile command center.
Every command center should have the capability of inter-operable communications across any and all frequencies. Rarely are deployments where there is only one agency or jurisdiction involved, and as seen on 9/11, it is extremely important for this cross communication and the use of plain language in lieu of ten-codes. Because of factors outside of control, there should also be redundant voice and data communications. This should include the use of satellite VoIP, telullar and land-line connectivity. A well-equipped communications console will allow for dispatch and control over all radio traffic on-scene as opposed to off-site centralized dispatch.
A command center vehicle should also have access to satellite television for important weather and news coverage. A telescopic mast with camera allows for outer perimeter vehicle placement without the loss of incident monitoring. Tying this equipment into a video distribution system connected to all monitors, DVD or DVR’s and patched into a SMART or other brand electronic copy-board will greatly improve after action anaylsis and de-briefing.
In order to allow for critical incident management, a command center should also have a comfortable and functional conference area. The introduction of NIMS/ICS brought major changes to the way natural and man-made disasters are managed. Most notably, there is a greater priority placed on bringing other functional areas into the briefings. Today’s hurricane response unit may very well have someone one from law enforcement, fire, emergency management, military, budget & planning, department of transportation or any other areas that may need consideration.