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Newest Component of the Oklahoma Regional Response System Unveiled


Oklahoma City – State officials today unveiled a Mobile Communications and Command Unit that is the newest component of Oklahoma’s Regional Response System and will be available to assist local responders during an emergency.  The Oklahoma Regional Response System is a system of more than 60 response units with different levels of capability located in communities across the state.  The Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OKOHS) developed the system with input from local responders and funded it with U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant funding.  The Mobile Communications and Command Unit will be located at the Department of Public Safety (DPS).  It is designed to aid with command and control when different agencies are involved in a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency response.

“We have been designing the Regional Response System since 2002,” said Kerry Pettingill, Oklahoma Homeland Security Director. 

“The concept was to provide a base level of response capability across the state so that no matter the size or location of the disaster, a response unit is within two hours.  The system has evolved since its inception to include state assets such as the Mobile Communications and Command Unit unveiled today.  This is an additional component to the system and it will greatly enhance the ability of local agencies to respond effectively.”   

The Mobile Communications and Command Unit has the capability to “bridge” different city, county, tribal and/or state agency radio communications systems when set up at an emergency anywhere in the state.  The Unit is designed to handle large, multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional events and when requested, will respond anywhere in the state.

“We are pleased to expand our role in the Oklahoma Regional Response System,” said Kevin Ward, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.  “We’ve provided the explosives response component to the system through the Highway Patrol Bomb Squad for several years.  Now, we will be able to assist with communications and command issues with this state of the art piece of equipment.

A team of four to six will operate the Mobile Communications and Command Unit and will include personnel from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and the Oklahoma Military Department.  Team members have communications, electronics and computer operations experience and have been trained to use the sophisticated computer and communications equipment on the Unit.

“Once again, Oklahoma is setting a standard of excellence,” said Lt. Governor Jari Askins.  “The Oklahoma Regional Response System is one of a kind and it exemplifies the kind of teamwork and partnerships we have in our state.  OKOHS is to be applauded for identifying a way to leverage federal homeland security funds to design an innovative system which is responsive to the needs of our citizens.  The combining of federal funds and state and local assets is a unique way to provide the highest level of response with limited resources.  The safety of the public will be greatly enhanced through this system.”

The Regional Response System includes the following units:

 Lawton Large CBRNE Unit 4/3/07 5 Large Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Units Local Asset $750,000 per unit
 McAlester Intermediate CBRNE Unit 4/3/07 12 Intermediate Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Units Local Asset $450,000 per unit
 Ada Technical Rescue Unit 4/3/07  8 Technical Rescue Units Local Asset $450,000 per unit
 El Reno Small Decontamination Unit 4/3/07 24 Small Decontamination Units Local Asset $42,000 per unit
 Tulsa Mass Decontamination Unit 4/3/07 2 Mass Decontamination Units Local Asset $280,000 per unit
 Urban Search and Rescue Unit 4/3/07 2 Urban Search and Rescue Units Local Asset $1.7 million per unit
 OSU Logistical Unit 4/3/07  1 Logistical Support Unit Local Asset $750,000
DPS Moblie Communications and Command Unit 4/3/07  1 Mobile Communication and Command Unit State Asset $1.18 million

“Anytime we can identify the type and location of resources well in advance of the disaster, it makes for better prepared communities and therefore a better prepared Oklahoma,” said Albert Ashwood, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management Director.

OKOHS is also adding agriculture and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) components to the Regional Response System.  The Department of Agriculture will receive a Mobile Laboratory that can be deployed into the field for onsite testing of samples by state laboratory technicians during an animal disease outbreak and/or other agricultural emergency ($500,000); six Cleaning and Disinfecting Units will be strategically located across the state to disinfect contaminated livestock transport vehicles and other equipment ($80,000 per unit) and much-needed EMS equipment will be provided to agencies across the state to enhance a medical response ($2 million).

“We are excited to see the complete system in operation,” said Pettingill.  “Local and state agencies have been extremely supportive by contributing resources for staffing, storage, maintenance and replenishment of equipment.  Because of their willingness to participate in this system, the citizens of Oklahoma will see a more efficient and effective response to any disaster.”  

To date, OKOHS has obligated more than $21 million in U.S. Department of Homeland Security funding to develop the system.