New life-saving mobile command center comes to Angelina County

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - At first glance it may just look like a trailer, but if disaster strikes the Angelina County and Cities Health District's mobile unit could be the brains of an emergency operation.

"It means the world, with this ability, we can actually link up with my servers here at the health department and utilize our electronic medical records system on the road," ACCHD Network Administrator Lamar Plowman said. "There's so much that we could do with this. Set up a clinic if we would need to."

The mobile command unit will respond to infectious disease outbreaks or natural disasters like Hurricane Ike or the 2009 December tornadoes in Lufkin.

It's one of only four units in the state.

"Two things, one we're very fortunate that we've been chosen for something like this," Centers for Disease Control Public Health Advisor Jon Hill said. "Also, we're very proud that those who decided who was going to get one of these chose us."

An agreement between the CDC and the Texas Association of Local Health Officials landed the high-tech unit in Angelina County.

"To have something like this, it puts you at ease to know we can operate and still function in the event of some sort of tragedy," Hill said.

If the power is out, the unit has solar and wind-generated power, a propane generator, and if all else fails lithium-ion batteries can keep it running for two days.

A few perks to the unit include video-conferencing capabilities and a wireless Internet hotspot.

"It would give us the ability to communicate with the local police departments and the county," Plowman said.

The mobile unit has a lot of features that allow crews to pack and unpack it easily. For example, two benches lay out into a bed and when the unit needs to move, the benches can be bolted to the wall.

The unit will respond to disasters in Angelina and surrounding counties like San Augustine and Polk.

The unit also has the ability to broadcast information over an AM radio frequency.

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