What can be done if emergency responders arrive at the scene of a critical life-safety incident and there is no power, phone or internet service to support the responders, particularly in rural areas like the Cascade Mountains?

Snohomish County Emergency Management has come up with a solution. They are called Mobile Information Technology Resiliency Units. These units are trailers that have built in capabilities to provide the power and communication resources so responders can tackle the incident more effectively and quickly.

With more development of these trailers in the works, there are three small trailers equipped and ready to roll to any requested scene. A fourth large ‘logistics’ unit is in the works.

The purpose of these trailers is to quickly provide basic communication and power resources at or near the incident scene. Not only do these resources help the responders at the event, but also for impacted community members to begin their recovery following the loss of such infrastructure as they initiate getting their lives back in order.

Using federal grant funding, the trailers and the installed equipment cost about $25,000 per unit, far less than what a similar basic trailer would cost. Six highly talented members of the county amateur radio group has provided over 1500 volunteer hours to design and install all the equipment in the trailers.

Each trailer features communication capabilities from satellites, connections via existing cell networks or existing wired or wireless networks, creating a larger wired or wireless network at the incident for phones, text messages, internet and more. For power, these trailers can use solar energy, backup generators or available local power sources, to extend power to those at the scene. Each trailer also has UHF and VHF radio equipment, and can add other radio equipment as needed for each specific event.

In case any bad actors wish to mess with these trailers, each unit has cameras installed along with remote sensing and notification capabilities.

These trailers can be quickly attached to larger Snohomish County Emergency Management tow vehicles and be deployed once requested. They have already been deployed to over a dozen incidents thus far including last summer’s Bolt Creek Wildfire along the Stevens Pass Highway, and several search and rescue missions.

Each deployment has provided a learning experience, adapting the trailers to enhance capabilities and services for future events. Other jurisdictions in Western Washington have also expressed interest in this emerging capability and technology.

Thanks go to Snohomish County Emergency Management and the dedicated members of their amateur radio team who designed and continue to enhance these largely self-contained trailers that provide the power and communication resources that can lead to saving lives and property.