Robert Clay, REM logistics chief, sets up a laptop/monitor screen which is used by incident commanders to brief large groups of responders or for the base commander to brief elected officials. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Aspera)
6/13/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- This isn't your grandparents' Winnebago.
The Mobile Emergency Operations Center, or MEOC, is actually more akin to something the A-Team would've driven if they had a much bigger budget.
A mobile command post, the 39-foot MEOC is equipped with its own power supply, six work stations with computers and Internet links, and radio and cellular communications, along with a built-in weather system and telescoping video cameras. It's a self-sustaining mobile communications center ready to support on-scene commanders during incidents.
In the event of an emergency - a plane crash or severe weather for example - the MEOC is able to receive and transmit vital data to the Robins EOC and Crisis Action Team, as well as responders off-base and those of other military installations using satellite communications.
"Essentially, it takes all the capabilities we have at the EOC - the base's command and control center - and trims them down to take to the scene in a mobile version," said Tech. Sgt. Terri Adams, 78th Readiness and Emergency Management Flight NCOIC. "It provides the incident commander with everything he needs right then and there in a centralized location."
The MEOC is a Federal Emergency Management Agency Type II vehicle, the first of its kind in Air Force Materiel Command.
Though every base has some version of a mobile operations center - be it a trailer or truck outfitted to communicate with emergency responders - there are only eight FEMA Type II's Air Force-wide, and Robins' MEOC is perhaps the most-technologically advanced of them all, according to Robert Clay, 78th REM logistics section chief.
The command center is used primarily for emergencies within the Southeastern region, though it can potentially assist anywhere there is a FEMA emergency; for instance, the MEOC remained on standby during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
It was last used in an active situation during the Robins Air Show a couple of years ago, where it operated roughly 14 hours a day for a week without needing refueling; equipped with a 90-gallon tank, it is completely self-sustaining for four days without a break.
"I'll get off my soapbox and say right now as far as emergency management and response operations, the Air Force is leading the way," said Clay. "Out of any branch, we're the most on top of this."
The MEOC arrived at Robins in 2010, though it wasn't processed into the Air Force vehicle fleet until January 2011.
Weighing in at 13 tons and costing more than a new Lamborghini, not just anyone can drive the mobile command center.
Special training consisting of multiple sessions and the licensing process takes about 30 days; at Robins, there are currently three licensed drivers.
"You can't just jump behind the wheel after a day's worth of training and be good to go," said Clay. "It's definitely a process."