High-tech help available for emergency officials
Area fire departments and emergency response officials recently learned about a high-tech resource that’s available to them, should disaster strike.
Operators of the 114th Fighter Wing South Dakota Air National Guard Emergency Management office brought their Mobile Emergency Operations Center (MEOC) to Luverne Monday for a demonstration.
As one of the most advanced mobile communications and operations centers available, the MEOC is equipped with technology that enables all local disaster response units to communicate through one connection.
Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian works as a cyber operations superintendent for the 114th in Sioux Falls and helped to arrange Monday’s demonstration.
“It’s good to get that inter-agency telecommunication awareness up so that everyone is aware of its capabilities,” Baustian said of the MEOC.
Senior Master Sgt. Rick Larson, 114th Fighter Wing emergency manager, helped develop the vehicle with the National Guard Bureau.
He spoke with local officials during Monday night’s demonstration at the Luverne Fire Hall, calling the equipment “a great asset to our nation.”
He said it was developed after disaster response to Hurricane Katrina showed a dire need for emergency officials to be able to communicate in a time of emergency.
For example, sheriff’s departments, state patrol and fire departments often use their own radio frequencies. The MEOC — equipped with satellite connections and live video feed — provides a single platform for all communication.
During Monday night’s demonstration local emergency officials from all parts of Rock County learned that the unit is available to them during crises.
Among other things, they learned it has a 3-800 MHz telecommunications bandwidth, self-acquiring satellite dish, both interior and exterior Wi-Fi hotspots, an internal computer network, voice over IP phone system, full motion video and video teleconferencing (like Skype), six workstations, self-contained local weather station and a private conference room.