1st 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 February, 2006.

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 disaster areas.

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.



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 on board.

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.




The 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 antennas

Position 2 uses tower mounted antennas

The following is a list of the position major equipment:

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 time.

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


Position 5 - MARINE

The Marine Position is behind the commanders chair.

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 Frequencies.


Mounted Antennas

Combination of roof and tower mounted antennas


Power Awning

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 200 miles 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.


In 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.





Ray Kassis, N4LEM
Brevard County Emergency Coordinator
PH: 321-632-1000
1150 W. King St. (SR 520)
Cocoa, Fla 32922


Please contact N4LEM if you like to have EBS-1
at your Special Event or Hamfest.











 All volunteers are to receive formal training on emergency communications courses and should be ARECC level 1 certified  to operate the emergency communications radios on EBS-1 when it is deployed with a Florida DEM State Mission number.

Please visit the Cocoa Amateur Radio Society web page.

Please contact Ray Kassis, N4LEM, 321-632-1000 for additional information.