A $370,000 armored rescue vehicle will transport Marin County's new "weapons of mass destruction" strike team, highly skilled sheriff's deputies who stand ready in the event of a chemical, biological, explosive or nuclear incident.
At Sheriff Robert Doyle's urging, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday allocated $368,570 in Homeland Security and other grant funds to buy a steel-plated BearCat G3 rescue truck from Lenco Armored Vehicles, a Massachusetts defense contractor that specializes in combat and rescue vehicles.
The BearCat, which can withstand explosive blasts and .50-caliber gunfire, is "used by SWAT and special ops teams at high-security facilities for perimeter patrol and security," according to Lenco's website. "Its open floor plan and dual AC and heating comfortably accommodates a fully-equipped 10-man tactical team."
The heavy-duty transport and rescue truck is just what the county's Special Response Team needs in order to handle "incidents that are beyond the capability of first responders," Doyle said in a report to the county board. The team is trained in "terrorism response scenarios designed to ensure that they can be called upon as a regional asset in the North Bay."
Doyle added that recently, a four-member "weapons of mass destruction unit" was created within the 16-member team "specifically designed to provide an initial response to incidents involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive agents."
He added the special mass destruction unit -- the "only unit of its kind in the North Bay" -- will work with fire and hazardous material officials "to provide multidisciplinary terrorism response capabilities."
Lt. Barry Heying said the vehicle, complete with sensors that can detect gases and radiation, is critical to respond to calamities. He noted the sheriff's program complements the work of fire and hazardous materials officials.
The BearCat "can protect the responding personnel from a toxic environment, from the effects of an explosion or from gunfire," the sheriff said.
Doyle added that the capability of his deputies to respond "to any large incident" would be "jeopardized by the current lack of an appropriate vehicle."
Supervisors endorsed a funding proposal Tuesday using grant funds, acting on the matter without comment or discussion as part of a routine consent calendar of business. Susan Adams was absent following knee surgery Monday.
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