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8th Annual California Mobile Communications Center Rally Held in May
Photos by Randall D. Larson [click on images to view in larger size]
The 2016 CA MCC Rally started out bright and sunny, however by late morning an overcast soon covered the sky.
Twenty-one local, state, federal, and private agencies gathered on Thursday, May 7th, 2016 in Sacramento, California, to display their mobile communications centers, share innovations they have developed, and learn from recent experiences in concurrent classroom presentations.
It was the 8th Annual California Mobile Communications Center Rally, an event which was created in 2009 by the California Fire Chiefs Association, Communications section, and which has grown in popularity and attendance since.
The purpose of this gathering is two-fold: the first is to bring a variety of vehicles to one place so that agencies that are not fortunate enough to already have a vehicle to look at all the options, and learn from the people who have put countless hours of effort in creating a tool that will assist them in managing disaster situations. The second purpose is to allow those same people who have worked so hard on their own vehicle to look at what others have done – and take those ideas to make their own vehicle more suited to the needs of their agency.
Left: Contra Costa County Sheriff's new LDV MCC arrives at check-in. Pictured: Rally Ground Support Leader Chuck Schuler (at cab) and, to right, IC Dave Larton (sunglasses) and Operations Chief Don Stabler (cap). Right: CAL FIRE’s new Com27, brought in from the agency’s Amador-El Dorado Unit and built by Frontline Communications of Florida.
This year’s Rally was hosted by CFCA Communications Section along with the Northern Chapter of APCO (Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International) and the Sacramento Metro Fire Department, on whose Fleet and Communications Facility grounds the event was held.
Left: Richmond Police Mobile Command Center, manufactured by EVI. Right: CalTRANS command trailer for managing incidents on the freeways and interfacing with major arterial shut-downs caused by accidents, storms, etc.
“During a major disaster deployment, we’re not just talking about public safety responders – there’s a whole contingent of allied and support entities that provide essential services to managing an emergency of large scale,” said Dave Larton, Incident Commander for the 2016 Rally. “We’re very pleased to see them in attendance here because it shows police and fire departments what kinds of resources these groups can bring to the unified command post.”
Videography Ana Maria of Share-A-Vision productions interviews CAL FIRE’s Lanny Dawes, staffing Com27, about the configuration and capabilities of the mobile communications unit. Share-A-Vision is putting together a training video on behalf of the Rally (sponsored by Squire Tech Solutions, LLC) which will be available shortly.
Mobile command and communications assets from fire departments, law enforcement agencies, the military, public utilities, and non-governmental organizations were on display to demonstrate the state-of-the-art of mobile communications technology, while smaller, home-grown comm vehicles showed what could be done with ingenuity, volunteers, and a smaller budget. Attendees also filled the training classrooms which presented a full roster of classes, including reports on the interoperable command, communications, and infrastructure management for Super Bowl 50 last February, how state telecommunications resources partnered with local mutual aid at a recent international marathon, and the convergence of HF (high frequency) disaster fallback converges with primary communications systems to deploy operable communications networks during intentional or natural infrastructure outages.
Left: California Department of Water Resources maintains the trailerized command center to support communications and coordination during water-related emergencies throughout northern California. Right: Mobile radio array in the Sacramento Sheriff SHARP (Sheriff's Amateur Radio Program) mobile communications trailer, designed and built-out by volunteers.
Along with the rolling stock, which this year ranged from half-dozen vendors of mobile communications technology and equipment displays their latest wares 20’ trailers to 40’ self-sufficient, state-of-the-art mobile vehicles, to the US Coast Guard’s Enhanced Mobile Incident Command Post (eMICP) which, with its double slideouts, takes up a 60x22’ footprint easily accommodating a large operations for supporting military and local government mutual aid activities.
Recognizing that large scale event management and support requires more than just local public safety responders, the Rally continued to include state agencies like Cal-Trans, the California Department of Water Resources, California EMS Authority, and the American Red Cross. Military resources on display in addition to the Coast Guard included the California National Guard and its highly mobile Humvee-mounted IC4U (Incident Commander’s Command, Control & Communications Unit) and the US Army Corps of Engineers Emergency Operations Command & Control.
Left: The California National Guard IC4U (Incident Commander's Command Control and Communications Unit) is a mobile communications interface unit, capable of bridging different communications systems such as those present in a disaster area and those resulting from first responders from other areas. Right: The US Coast Guard’s Mobile Communications Vehicle, carries a compact assortment of full spectrum HF, VHF, UHF, MilSatcom Voice, Data, VOIP, and ROIP communications capabilities and connectivity.
“As a public safety-hosted event since its debut in 2009, the California MCC Rally has always been free of charge for attendees and participants,” said Larton. “We’re grateful to the agencies that have authorized their command vehicles to participate, the vendors who bring first-hand information about the latest developments in mobile command and communications technology, and especially our growing number of corporate sponsors, whose donations provide the funding to put on the Rally year after year."
Left: The command unit from Folsom PD, manufactured by LDV. Right: Solano County Mobile Command Center, manufactured by Farber.
A little rain in the morning led to overcast, then by mid-afternoon a steady rain set in with thunder in the distance. For safety reasons, the IC decided to begin lowering antenna masts and cleared units to begin packing up about an hour before the scheduled shut-down time. Comments and evaluation forms turned in by participants and attendees were highly positive about the Rally, despite the turn in the weather, many citing the opportunity to tour the diverse assortment of vehicles on display and attend the roster high-quality classes as ongoing draws that attracted them to attend this year's Rally.
Left: The Coast Guard’s Mobile Incident Command Post is a trailer-able conference room that provides phone and internet services as well as standard Coast Guard (CG) Radio Frequency (RF) communications, providing a sheltered work space, voice and data connectivity as well as command and control capabilities on a mobile platform. Right: Vendor & Sponsor TacSat Networks displayed a variety of satellite communications offerings to enhance mobile communications.
“Personally I’m particularly grateful to a great Command Staff that made this year’s Mobile Command Center Rally such a huge success," Larton concluded. "I was proud and honored to have them on my team – they made my job as IC look easy! The 2016 Rally Team: Chuck Berdan IC Emeritus, Don Stabler Operations, Randall Larson Plans, Scott Williams Logistics, John Gleichweit Training/Education, Chuck Schuler Ground Support, Bill Lewis Staging/Safety - thanks to all of you for your support!”
Left: North Valley Animal Disaster Group's command trailer, from Butte County, is a unique resource to support pet and domestic animal rescue during emergencies and disasters. Right: Vendor and Rally Sponsor Chair Pros displayed its seating products for call centers and mobile units
Left: Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) rejoined this year's Rally with their mobile command unit, which supports the utility company's emergency response as well as interaction with public safety responders when needed. Right: Interior of the Solano County Mobile Command Center.
Below: Special thanks to all the 2016 MCC Rally Sponsors!