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Tribe to receive second mobile command vehicle

Tribal officials said the new acquisition would look similar to this one by Nomad GCS. (Nomad GCS)

The Seminole Tribe’s Public Safety departments are set to receive a second emergency mobile command vehicle (MCV), adding to a growing ability to respond to a variety of situations on its reservations.

The acquisition of the first MCV in 2021 marked a milestone for the tribe and was a rarity in Indian Country. The 45-foot long, fully decked out vehicle with a 70-gallon fuel tank offers an array of capabilities used by the tribe’s police, fire rescue and emergency management personnel. The tribe had previously operated its mobile command from a trailer pulled by a truck.

The second MCV will look different but have the same capabilities as the first – just at a smaller scale and with fewer amenities. It will be used in areas where the larger one can’t navigate as effectively.

“We had a couple instances where, while the [first] MCV is versatile and usable, it could not access the locations we needed to operate as a command center,” Office of Emergency Management director Paul Downing, said.

Downing (Passamaquoddy Tribe of Indian Township) said while the tribe has a relatively small number of people living across Florida, its footprint is large and it’s difficult for one vehicle to cover it all effectively.

“We needed a reduced, off-road capable command center that could go on dirt roads, down canal roads and into a high water event like a major flood,” he said. “It’s very tall and has military style tires that don’t go flat. It can roll over trees.”

Downing said the smaller MCV would likely be headquartered nearer to the tribe’s rural reservations outside of the Hollywood area.

One of the many benefits of both MCVs is a decreased response time for law enforcement and emergency services. Both vehicles have the ability to connect to dispatch services across the tribe, monitor the weather, and use surveillance cameras and drone footage. Each has multiple workstations and automated and state-of-the-art functions.

The vehicles can double as mobile crime labs and respond to events like flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, or active shooter and terrorism incidents.

For example, the first MCV was dispatched to the Brighton Reservation to provide assistance after Hurricane Ian in September 2022. It’s also been used at an Ahfachkee School career day in Big Cypress, and was the talk of attendees at the 2022 Governor’s Hurricane Conference in West Palm Beach.

Uses are also not limited to emergencies. The MCVs can function as mobile medical treatment facilities, too, such as vaccination distribution.

Jonathan Urtecho, an Office of Emergency Management coordinator who oversaw the grant process for the second MCV, said the company that’s building it for the tribe is Nomad GCS of Columbia Falls, Montana. He said while the grant funds have been approved, the build out hasn’t yet started. Downing said he’s hopeful it will be available during the 2024 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Both vehicles have been primarily funded through Department of Homeland Security grants.

“We’re always thinking about the future,” Downing said. “The development of our programs is always forward looking. This will provide enhanced protection for the Seminole Tribe for many years.”

The tribe’s first mobile command vehicle has been in operation since 2021. (File photo)
Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at