Designing a Mobile UnitNext began the focus of formally defining the numerous equipment requirements and capabilities for this unit, outlining what would be required to meet the challenges perceived down the road, and determining how best to present a plan to the many agencies that would benefit from a unit that would meet every conceivable emergency communication requirement. It was recognized that the plan needed to be complete in its format and easily perceived as a strong viable asset. This would draw the support and contributions of agencies, philanthropies, corporations, and individuals. This was not an easy task.
Cost represented a major component of this venture. The vehicle would necessarily need to be of sufficient capacity to incorporate the numerous pieces of equipment, including radios, power supplies, large-scale monitors, interface equipment, computers, chairs at the three operating stations, power sources and related interfaces, lighting, and storage space. External power source (generator) would require a trailer, so the unit itself needed to be capable of towing a trailer containing the generator, extra fuel, spare tires and incidental supplies. In addition, four wheel drive capability would be a desirable while providing all-terrain mobility. And finally, in anticipation that this unit could be deployed anywhere in the United States and overseas in support of disaster operations, the unit needs to be durable enough to accommodate lengthy road trips and properly sized to fit into cargo aircraft in the event of overseas deployment.
It was determined that a used medium duty fire rescue vehicle would meet all our perceived requirements. Conversion of this unit would be less expensive than attempting to acquire a unit built especially for our target goals. Standards were established for the vehicle, addressing issues such as mileage, wear and tear, successful testing of engine, transmission, drive train, transfer case and braking system that pass stringent tests before we would accept the unit.