Public Safety

Satellite Technology May Help During Emergency

There is a new tool County Emergency Services might be able to use when normal communications are down. During an emergency, San Diego Gas and Electric will offer their two mobile command trailers when they don’t need them. The trailers use satellite technology to create a communications hot spot.

“These communications tools offered to the region by SDG&E could be very valuable during a disaster and are something we could have used during the 2007 wildfires,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Roberts. “The mobile command centers can provide first responders and regional leaders with precise and timely information from the field that is critical for emergency management.”

The mobile command centers would send that information back to the County’s Emergency Operations Center and images or data could be shared with other first responders and the public, said Leslie Luke with the Office of Emergency Services.

Ken Fussell, manager of emergency services at Sempra Energy, said the two trailers will be assigned out from the County Emergency Operations Center to a requesting agency. In one possible scenario, the trailers could be used by a fire department, providing internet, phone, radio, television and data communications at a fire command post that had lost communications.

The trailers are equipped with high speed wired and wireless internet and a high definition video camera. They also have television access from local and satellite broadcasts with a large video display on the outside of the trailer. Additionally, they have a propane generator, a dual propane tank supply, and back-up battery power.

SDG&E can also roll out three communication booths with a satellite phone that the public or emergency responders could use for emergency communications if mobile phones are not connecting, Fussell said.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact