Saturday, Feb. 21


What's MABAS doing for Lincoln?

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[FEB. 21, 2004]  OK, first what is MABAS? MABAS stands for Mutual Aid Box Alarm System. It is a statewide mutual aid response system that offers member agencies equipment and the personnel to run that equipment in time of need. The assistance is especially important for smaller departments that don't have a lot of equipment. This type of mutual aid is especially beneficial to fire departments.

It took months of planning and there were plenty of i's to dot and t's to cross, including insurance liability and union approval. But when the city of Lincoln passed the MABAS agreement Tuesday evening, Fire Chief Bucky Washam was excited to get going. Wednesday he began calling Logan County fire departments. On Friday the local department received training on how the system works.

The new mutual aid can geographically draw backup support from Bloomington, Decatur, Springfield and all around Lincoln. "If I need an extra aerial truck, I can call a department that has one and they send it out with four men," Chief Washam said. He can get both equipment and additional personnel, he said.

The additional support could be of greatest value in the event of a large-scale or ongoing incident.


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Another mutual aid agreement, between Logan County and Macon County ESDAs, demonstrates that. The counties have shared resources, training, practices and have provided emergency response in actual events. This relationship has provided Lincoln with additional assets and manpower a number of times in the past.

The most recent assistance was during last May's tornado, when a 10-block area of Lincoln was heavily damaged just before nightfall and left with no power all night. Macon County sent their mobile communications unit, which provided extra radios, and some of their search and rescue team to walk the streets all night looking for injured and providing life and property protection.

[Jan Youngquist]

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