KINGMAN – The Mohave County Board of Supervisors last week approved the acquisition of a mobile communications vehicle from the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.
The department has for years maintained a fleet of five mobile communications vehicles toward that specific purpose. The vehicles were commissioned in 2004 and have for 14 years been used by state agencies to coordinate emergency response across large areas and over rugged terrain. Now one such vehicle will be transferred to Mohave County for the county’s permanent use.
Mohave County comprises almost 13,500 square miles, with mountainous terrain and steep desert landscape surrounding the Colorado River. Traditional line-of-sight communication can be problematic in the region’s remote areas. As deputies and search and rescue personnel are continuing their sweep of the Colorado River for victims after a fatal boating accident last weekend, the ability to communicate can be vital to their success.
Mohave County officials have made use of the vehicle, known as a ‘Toad,” since 2004. The 24-foot, wide-body van maintains an interoperable radio communications capacity, allowing operators to communicate on a variety of channels with other emergency agencies. The vehicle also maintains internet capacity and an onboard broadband satellite system with telephone infrastructure to provide field data to organizations in the field.
According to the agreement approved by Mohave County supervisors on Tuesday, ownership over the vehicle would be transferred from the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to Mohave County free of charge, with the department paying for the vehicle’s first two years of satellite operations.
“We’ve had this thing here forever,” said Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson. “They asked if Mohave County would like to keep it. We’ve been using it for emergency situations like the boating accident last weekend.”
The vehicle hasn’t been fielded often, Johnson said, and it cost the county only $500 in fuel last year.
“It’s not something we roll out every day,” he said. “But it’s a good thing to have. We have to have the mobility – Mohave County is so big, with mountains and desert, and most people don’t need rescued while they’re in the city. We need to have those communications right there … it’s worked out well for us.”
According to Johnson, the cost of the “Toad’s” satellite service will be about $400 per month after its first two years of ownership by Mohave County. County officials are exploring options to lower that price before such costs are incurred.
The vehicle will be maintained by the Mohave County Department of Emergency Management.