|Story and photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs
The Fort McCoy Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) has a
new mobile command unit (MCU) to support its emergency operations needs.
Ted Richmond, an assistant fire chief, said the vehicle replaces one
that was used for both emergency operations and rescue purposes.
Deputy Fire Chief Adam Ballard
and Firefighter Donald Klimeck test the communications equipment
on the new mobile command unit.
The DES now can consider obtaining a vehicle to be used solely for
“The MCU can do all the functions that are done in the DES buildings
during an emergency situation,” Richmond said. “It’s mobile so it can
maneuver away from known threats and still operate and provide the same
emergency services that the DES would.”
All of the latest communications technology is available on or inside
the MCU. Richmond said this includes an external video camera that has
zoom and tilting capabilities to allow personnel inside the vehicle
360-degree observation of the outer environment.
The MCU’s satellite dish allows occupants to monitor the local
television stations and the outside video. In addition to regular TV
monitors, a 42-inch plasma television with a SMART Board allows
personnel to create maps or other documents about emergency situations,
for example, print and send them to other external recipients. This
could serve as an excellent information or briefing tool during an
emergency situation, he said.
Telephone and radio connectivity to the installation’s system will allow
vehicle occupants to monitor radio stations and to send and receive
radio communications/transmissions through the post’s radio system.
A connection to the Fort McCoy Internet backbone allows relay of
information via that option, as well, Richmond said.
All MCU functions are accomplished electronically, and nothing has to be
done by hand. This includes engaging an outside canopy to provide
weather protection, if necessary, he said.
The MCU can be used to support the installation’s DES mutual-aid
agreements to support local fire departments and law-enforcement
agencies, for example.
Richmond said the MCU will be an invaluable tool.
“No one in the local area has this equipment so it will upgrade the
emergency communications options throughout the region,” Richmond said.
“You have to go to Eau Claire or Madison to find similar equipment.”
David Biondi, Fort McCoy fire chief, said the MCU will be a great
on-scene asset during emergencies.
“If we can’t operate out of the DES facilities, we can use this vehicle
to handle our operations,” Biondi said. “It has its own generator, or
can be plugged into a power source to provide the power it needs to
“The MCU will allow DES to respond immediately to any local emergency or
catastrophic event, set up an Incident/Area Command and have full
emergency-communications and operational capability in minutes,” he
said. “The days of trying to coordinate a full emergency response over
the hood of a vehicle are over. Time is of the essence in saving lives
and preserving property, and this vehicle will allow us to coordinate
and obtain critical assets from federal, state, and local agencies.”
The 40-foot-long vehicle is leased from the General Services
Administration and is maintained by the Installation Materiel
Maintenance Facility or through external maintenance contracts, Biondi
For more information about the MCU, call DES at 608-388-2508.