of its Kind
New Unit to Aid in Disasters
Ray Kassis, N4LEM, Brevard County
Emergency Coordinator, purchased the former Collier County Mobile Command Center in
EBS-1 is equipped with a FM Broadcast
Studio for interviewing Public Officials for live up-to-minute status reports
to be broadcast over FM radio. All local residents with a broadcast
band receiver will be able to hear life saving emergency information on
evacuation routes, first aid stations, food and shelter locations and up to
the minute weather information.
Ray has assembled a Mobile Command
Center that is unique and a 1st of its kind with an Emergency FM
transmitter to broadcast vital information to the Disaster Evacuees in
The idea has been in the making for nearly 3 years.
The following is an extract from an interview with Mr. Kassis:
"Hurricanes affecting the Stuart and Ft. Pierce areas made two community
broadcast stations inoperable. In the Stuart area we lost our
antenna, and we were off the air for 51 days. We couldn't get a tower crew to
fix it. In Ft. Pierce, our station lost its roof and we couldn't operate, so
we got someone to loan us an RV, and we set up a makeshift studio on top of
the kitchen sink with a control board, microphone, speakers, etc. We drove
the RV to the tower and plugged our makeshift studio in the transmitter, The
idea of a "drive-away" radio station was then born."
County and Municipal Agencies, The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and
private service Agencies send vital information to Command Center. This
information will then be passed to the Studio Engineers. The studio engineers will in-turn
broadcast it on the FM transmitter to all the Disaster Evacuees who have FM
broadcast band receivers.
This privately funded venture is being built and put together mostly by
volunteers, with special thanks to the folks from the North Brevard Amateur
Radio Club and the Cocoa Amateur Radio Society.
To provide emergency communications
assistance to State, County and municipal agencies as well as the National
Weather Service, the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and other public
and private service agencies.
EBS-1 was designed in-house by Collier
County following disastrous wild land fires in 1989. The vehicle is built on
a John Deere chassis, with an aluminum/wood/foam composite box. The vehicle
is 33 feet long, 96 inches wide, and is powered by a Ford 460 cubic inch V-8
engine. A full fuel load is 60 gallons of unleaded gasoline, which provides
a one tank range of about 350 miles. Pneumatic jacks on all four corners
provide a stable operational platform.
The vehicle was designed for operation under the Incident Management System
(formerly called Incident Command System, or ICS), and provides air
conditioned work space for a 6-8 man command staff, and 4 communications
operators. Outside additional protected workspace is available under a 20
by 9 foot roll up awning. A 20 KW generator is capable of providing all the
power needed, and then some.
& COMMANDER POSITIONS
The forward position provides an excellent
view for the driver in emergency response, but adds seating for 3 - 4 more
personnel once on scene. At least two can be seated on a bench seat behind
the driver, while both the driver's and navigator's seats swivel to provide
operational seating as well. The front compartment is equipped with a
trunked 800 radio as well as a high band VHF rig. A separate cell phone is
also available at the driver's right hand. On the desk behind the
navigator's seat a second telephone is connected to the main bank of phones
A GPS is also provided, with an
external antenna, and is connected to the Automatic Position Reporting
System (APRS) amateur radio network. The bus beacons it's position every 1
- 10 minutes, so it may be followed in the EOC. A full emergency response
package is included.
FM Broadcast Studio in the rear of the bus will be used for interviewing
Public Officials for live up-to-minute status reports.
Those reports will provide the local
residents information on first aid stations, food, water, ice and shelter
locations. It will also broadcast weather, road conditions, evacuation
routes and other valuable information.
EBS-1 was designed to provide communications on a wide scale of
responses, from hurricanes, to multi-casualty accidents, to large fires and hazmat
incidents to plane crashes. A locally designed, power assisted fold-over
telescoping 40 foot tower is mounted on the roof. Multi-band antennas are
used where possible. A combination of roof mounted and tower mounted antennas
are used. Tower mounted antennas are disconnected en route. Power for all
electronics is provided by three batteries mounted under the floor street
side. Chargers trickle charge the batteries while parked, or hard charge when
needed while in use. The tower was designed by Naples
Two Way Radio, Naples, Florida (239) 774 7373.
Positions 1 and 2 - HAM RADIO
Position 1 uses roof mounted
Position 2 uses tower mounted antennas
The following is a list of the position
1 Icom IC-208 dual band radio.
3 Icom IC-V8000 VHF 75 watt radios.
These 4 radio are hooked to a mixer for monitoring all radios at the same
1 Icom IC-V8000 APRS
1 Icom IC-V8000 packet radio
One HF all mode ICOM 746-Pro 100 Watt
Radio with tuner and 300 Watt 2 meter Sideband Amplifier
Amateur radio operators staffing the
command center who are receiving status reports from the local emergency management
agencies will also receive Health & Welfare messages from the
American Red Cross in the affected area to be passed on to the National
Traffic System (NTS) for evacuees that are seeking to get information back
to their families on their Health & Welfare.
Positions 3 and 4 - PUBLIC SERVICE
Aircraft radio, 25 watt, right.
Marine radio, 100 watt, right
One UHF 65 watt radio
One low band VHF radio
One two meter all mode radio
5 - MARINE
The Marine Position is behind the commanders
One Icom marine VHF (left), and one ICOM HF
"Type Excepted" (right) for
communications with the US Coast Guard, FEMA, State, RED CROSS and Other HF
Combination of roof and tower mounted antennas
A power awning is being mounted on the
side of EBS-1. This is a valuable asset for the engineers and amateur radio
operators to relax on their breaks.
The Mobile Command Center also
carries, as a backup, a satellite telephone and trunked satellite
communications with the EOC, surrounding counties and the State EOC. A small dish
which automatically "finds" the satellite is located at the back
left of the bus, on the roof (the white radome is visible just to the right
of the vertical HF antenna). The satellite communications system provides
an emergency link home in case all others fail. EBS-1 is also equiped
with a Global-Star and Iridium Satellite Phone.
VHF/UHF/800 mhz antennas are primarily
triband or quadband designs to help minimize the number of antennas needed on
the vehicle. Aircraft, marine and television antennas are monobanders. HF
antennas are 23 foot marine whips which are stowed along the street side in
transit, and deployed upon arrival. A dipole antenna is carried in storage
for deployment, and experimental HF antennas for use in motion are under test.
The two meter single sideband antenna is a double loop. Range on 2 SSB is consistently
with 300 watts.
The basic tower structure itself is a
standard design of Aluma-Tower of Vero Beach, Florida. Forty feet high, it
supports a quad band vertical on top, and two triband antennas side mounted
near the top of the structure. The deployment design of the tower was done by
Glen Fadden W2CXX, the owner of Naples Two Way Radio.
transit the tower is stowed horizontally on the curb of the roof, in a
custom designed track. Deployment begins with a motor assisted winch
rolling the tower back about 8 feet, to a point where the pivot point is
just aft of the back wall of the coach. A boat hook is used to pivot the
tower to vertical, and it is locked to the bumper manually with two bolts.
The color coded antenna feed lines are connected, then a second winch,
driven by an electric drill, raises the tower to it's full height. As the
top moves out of the lower section, the two side mounted antennas are
gravity deployed on panametric arms away from the tower itself.
A MCI motor home, designated EBS-2 will be deployed with EBS-1. It will be used as a support unit for the
broadcast personnel and amateur radio operators working the emergency
communications. It will also be used for living quarters and will be utilized
for extended periods.
A third unit, EBS-3, was purchased for a
mobile tower truck for the FM/VHF antennas. The tower truck is a commercial
basket truck that will have antennas mounted on the basket. When the basket
is fully extended and raised, the antennas will be 125 feet + in height.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Brevard County Emergency Coordinator
1150 W. King St. (SR 520)
Cocoa, Fla 32922
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