New Regional Rescue Truck Could Save Lives - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New Regional Rescue Truck Could Save Lives

When Connie Rockco was a medic in the 1970s, the most high tech gadget in her ambulance was a telephone.

"A phone that could be in a moving vehicle and still communicate with the hospital," she remembered.

Three decades later, Rockco rode around Gulfport in a state-of-the-art rescue vehicle just given to the South Mississippi Regional Response Team.

"We've come a long way," she laughed.

The rescue vehicle looks a lot like a fire truck. But it doesn't have any hoses on it. Officially, it's called an operations emergency response vehicle. Homeland Security funds paid for it. And Danny Manley drove it down to its new home.

"Local county and municipalities just don't have the budget to send their people to this type of training," Manley said. "And they don't have it in their budget to buy this type of equipment."

Each compartment on the truck has control panels that link the system to satellites, weather gauges and cameras. That sort of equipment is often needed at command posts when hazardous situations threaten the community.

Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan likes two things about his new set of wheels.

"One thing is it has all of our response equipment in one truck," he said. "With the advanced lighting we have on it, the advanced command and control, the weather station, everything, we know the conditions at that location, and can operate independently of anything else right there on the scene."

The other thing Sullivan likes is how so many departments can take advantage of this system.

For example, Bobby Strahan might need the response truck if a train ever flipped over in Pearl River County.

"Every school in that county is within a half mile of that track," the county's emergency operations manager said. "If we ever have a hazmat derailment up there, we're going to need all the help we can get."

Six counties make up the South Mississippi Regional Response Team. And they'll all have access to the emergency response vehicle.

by Brad Kessie

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