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Tribe’s mobile command vehicle draws eyes at hurricane conference

From left to right are Erik Hartl, Paul Downing, Gracia Szczech and Ralph Tirona. (Courtesy photo)

The Seminole Tribe’s new mobile command vehicle (MCV) made an appearance at the 2022 Governor’s Hurricane Conference in West Palm Beach from May 8 to May 13. Tribal employees in attendance said the $1 million, 45-foot-long, state-of-the-art vehicle was a favorite for attendees.

The conference is one of the nation’s largest that focuses on hurricane planning, preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.

The company that built the vehicle, LDV Inc., asked the tribe’s head of Public Safety, Will Latchford, if he would make it available for display near the conference’s exhibition area for a few days. The tribe’s director of Emergency Management, Paul Downing, and Emergency Management coordinators Erik Hartl and Ralph Tirona spent time attending conference sessions, networking and hosting tours of the vehicle.

“As one of the most technologically advanced systems on display, the tribe’s mobile command vehicle was at the forefront of everyone’s interest,” Downing said.

Two of the attendees who requested a tour were Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) region four administrator, Gracia Szczech, and the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Kevin Guthrie.

The tribe acquired the vehicle through a Department of Homeland Security grant on May 27, 2021.

The MCV can connect to dispatch services across the tribe, monitor the weather and has drone surveillance capability. One of its many benefits is a faster response time for law enforcement and emergency services. For example, the command truck could respond to an affected area during a natural disaster as opposed to people being transported to multiple facilities. The command truck can double as a mobile crime lab and survey an area with thousands of people. It can respond to events like flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, or even active shooter and terrorism incidents.

Its use is not limited to emergencies, either. The vehicle can function as a mobile medical treatment facility, too. For example, the tribe has the option to use it to distribute Covid-19 vaccines or administer booster shots. It can also be used for event safety and security at tribalwide functions or at Hard Rock events.

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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 damonscott@semtribe.com.
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