On October 18, the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter's communications van saw its first use in several years, serving as one of the net control stations for the 2009 Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. The van handled medical and logistics requests for the first half of the race.
Last year, the response communications team in Burlingame was given the opportunity to refurbish the communications van in order to enhance our emergency communications capabilities. Working closely with volunteers and about $800, we have been slowly updating the vehicle’s equipment and determining what capabilities we need in a rebuilt mobile communications center.
Although we were still not quite finished with the demolition of the interior, we had enough equipment working and a new prototype communications desk in place to evaluate our initial work and design concepts during an actual event. An event like the Nike Women’s Marathon was a great field exercise we can participate in to test the logistics, communications, volunteer registration and first aid procedures we will need in the event of a real disaster.
While the team had to roll with a few punches in the trial run, the event was overall a success. With one trial deployment under our belt, we are now completing the interior demolition and will soon be ready to begin outfitting the vehicle with some key equipment. We hope to have this work completed before the Bay to Breakers race in 2010, so we can once against test our design concepts under chaotic conditions.