Houston Airports' high-tech mobile incident command vehicle allows first responders to stay one step ahead of potential emergencies and to keep the airports running smoothly in the event of any sort of disruption to airport communications.
The vehicle is equipped with cutting-edge technology, which can essentially run the communication side of operations for all three airports. The vehicle has capacity for seven work stations, a 48-foot boom with a high-definition camera that links to four external cameras, Wi-Fi, cellular and satellite connection capabilities, radio, as well as on-board and backup generators for power.
If any of the airports' main communication systems are compromised, the vehicle could be used as a back-up communication center. It can also provide support on the scene for any type of emergency situation. "In the event of an aircraft incident or an active shooter situation, this vehicle would be one of the primary vehicles that would be staged close to the incident site," said Frank Ciaccio, the emergency management coordinator for the Houston Airport System's Safety & Emergency Management Division.
"Previously, we didn't have a place where everyone could be at one time in the event of an emergency," Ciaccio added. "We had people on different channels and different frequencies. Through this vehicle, everyone can come together in a more unified command."
The mobile command vehicle has been deployed at Ellington during the F-16 jet fire, and proved to be a valuable asset as airport first responders were able to get close to the scene and utilize the high-definition cameras to gain views and aid in communications. It has also been featured in several local events, such as the Wings Over Houston Airshow and helping to monitor safety at the 2017 Superbowl, as a means to serve law enforcement with back-up and aviation support.
The vehicle is owned and operated by the Houston Airports. It is completely customized to meet the specific needs and requirements of all three airports. Other airports typically rely on fire departments or police for use of their incident command vehicles, should they need it. As one of the largest airport systems in the country, this puts Houston Airports at the forefront of safety and emergency management.