Alachua County Fire Rescue’s (ACFR) Mutual Aid Radio Communications (MARC) team deployed Wednesday to support recovery efforts following Hurricane Idalia, the county announced Thursday.
The four-person unit is part of the state emergency response team working in the hardest-hit areas after the storm.
“They’re set up providing radio comms for our Urban Search and Rescue teams, engine strike teams, ambulance strike teams and other first responders,” ACFR District Chief Kevin Rulapaugh said in a phone interview. “In addition to radio communications, they also provide satellite telephone and satellite data capabilities, as well as radio linking.”
Rulapaugh, who is the state coordinator for the MARC system, said seven of the state’s eight teams are deployed to Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, along with “all over the Big Bend region.”
Hurricane Idalia rendered native radio systems, cell phones, internet and power inoperative in swaths of affected areas. The MARC system provides these services in a mobile platform.
“In the digital age we’re in, everybody needs access to internet, email and data,” Rulapaugh said.
The MARC system also allows commanders and units to communicate between the theater of operations and the incident command post in Orlando and the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.
Rulapaugh said teams are still doing assessments, but initial information indicates the deployment will only need to last three to five days.
“In talking with my crews… they’re not reporting damage as big as originally expected,” Rulapaugh said.