Command Center

The Johnston Emergency Command Center is similar to the command center the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office expects to receive in early 2023.

The tragic death of a father and his 5-year-old son in the Neuse River in March highlighted the need for Wayne County to have a mobile command center to respond to area emergencies.

As search and rescue teams worked around-the-clock to find the father, Sterling Holman, and his son, Braylin, having the Johnston County command center near the Neuse River banks helped rescue workers who spent a week combing the Neuse River.

Rescue crews found the Holmans after they drowned in the river, which was estimated to be moving 3 to 4 mph when the Holmans entered the water.

The Wayne County search and rescue team was able to find the Holmans with the help of Johnston County’s Emergency Mobile Command Center.

After taking notice of the benefits of a command center, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has moved forward to purchase its own unit. The $902,965 purchase was recently approved by the Wayne County Board of Commissioners.

The Dec. 7 approval came less than a month after the General Assembly passed its biennial budget, on Nov. 18, which earmarks $500,000 for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office command center purchase.

Sheriff Larry Pierce said the remaining cost may be paid for with American Rescue Plan funds, but the use of the ARP funding has not been determined.

Pierce said Wayne County needs a command center because there have been multiple times when deputies needed to use Johnston County’s unit to respond to emergencies, including in March during the search and rescue at the Neuse River.

The command center will be equipped with video surveillance equipment, wireless antennas and weather station equipment. Inside the command center will be a conference room as well as multiple work stations that include tablets and computers.

The center is currently being built by LDV Inc. in Burlington, Wisconsin, and expected to be ready by December. Deputies anticipate being able to use the center in early 2023.

The unit will operate as a mobile meeting center. The technology the emergency vehicle offers will allow multiple agencies to set up remote locations and coordinate plans on how to handle emergency situations, such as natural disasters.

The vehicle could be available to the Wayne County Health Department in the case of another pandemic and could be used during a mass vaccination rollout, Pierce said. The unit may also be used a center for emergency readiness training, Pierce said.

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