By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
RICHMOND – The community of Richmond and southeastern Lee County are better prepared for disaster response thanks to the Richmond Fire Department receiving a grant to purchase an emergency response trailer.
The $12,300 grant came from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation to buy and equip a mobile emergency command station.
“We got it in case we have a disaster – God forbid – like a tornado somewhere in the county or a missing person,” said Richmond Fire Chief Joe Banik. “We can take this out and use it as a command center. Any fire department in the county that needs to borrow it can use it.”
The trailer is equipped with a 9,000-watt generator and air conditioning for long emergency response situations.
The front of the trailer contains a staging area with a white board, area maps, planning table and CB radio.
The back of the trailer holds all of the department’s equipment needed for response.
“We’ve got flood lights on the outside so we can light up either side when we pull up on a scene,” Banik said. “The back carries our thermal imaging cameras so if we’re looking for someone lost in the woods, we can use that to help.”
Banik said they would have loved to have had something like the trailer to take to Smithville for the tornado rescue efforts in 2011.
“When the tornado hit Smithville, we were on the road in 10 minutes. I would say we were the first Lee County fire department in Smithville,” Banik said. “We could have used the command center to help organize search areas for each department.”
Lee County District 5 Supervisor Billy Joe Holland said the trailer is an asset not only to the community, but also to the rest of the county and even the state.
The trailer is registered with Mississippi Emergency Management Agency so other communities can call on the Richmond Volunteer Fire Department if needed.
“We’ll go anywhere for anybody,” Bank said. “That’s what volunteers do.”