2012-04-13 / Front Page

DART rolls out mobile command center

By Roxanne Estrada

911—The new DART vehicle cost the city around $46,000. 911—The new DART vehicle cost the city around $46,000. The all-volunteer Camarillo Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) will now respond to events and disasters in a new $46,000 vehicle.

“We’re thrilled to have it,” said Cmdr. Steve DeCesari, chief of the Camarillo Police. “You have all these volunteers who have given up their free time to work with us, and it’s nice for them to have a vehicle they can be proud of.”

The truck cost about $36,000, and police spent another $10,000 to outfit the vehicle with specialty equipment.

The city purchased the new vehicle in January and has been outfitting it since then. The new DART truck is a 2012 Ford F-350 that can transport six members and has a sheriff’s multiband communications radio.

A large trailer with a 6-foot roof is attached to the back of the truck. There are floor-to-ceiling shelves and ample walking and working room. It has six locking outside storage boxes, rear adjustable spotlights and warning lights. The trailer can also tow an additional trailer with extra equipment.

The DART members had been using a retired 1989 ambulance that was donated to the city of Camarillo in 1998. It was used as a command post and mobile medical treatment center. It also delivered the team’s equipment trailer to any disaster or event location.

“Every time we used (the ambulance) something went wrong with the maintenance,” DeCesari said. “We didn’t want to have to worry about it breaking down, especially in a time of disaster.”

The old ambulance had more than 300,000 miles, electrical problems, inoperable air conditioning and heating, and the diesel engine was not within the standards for exhaust emission laws. It was no longer capable of towing the trailer and could only transport two members.

DeCesari said it’s important for the vehicle to tow a trailer because the team needs the equipment. Although DART members don’t often respond to disasters and mostly serve at community events, he said, it’s necessary that they be prepared.

“We prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” DeCesari said.

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