Exploits Search and Rescue has ditched its 1987 school bus in favour of a new $350,000 mobile command centre.
The volunteer search and rescue team unveiled the new machine, a converted freightliner truck, on Feb. 1.
Training sessions with the new piece of equipment have begun, and the group says the truck promises to make life easier in the field.
"We can pull up to a scene, start the generator within a matter of seconds, and we have everything available to us to start the search immediately," explained Trevor Miller, a spokesperson for the group.
"It shortens our timeframe."
Funds for the new command centre were raised with the help of the Lions Club, and the Lions Club International Foundation, which offered the group a matching donation of up to $130,000 for money they earned.
The purchase of the vehicle was a multi-step process. The group first bought the truck chassis, then went to a separate supplier for the box-shaped working area.
The truck's lighting and heating systems were installed by a third company in Nova Scotia, and the command centre arrived in Grand Falls-Windsor around Christmas, when the team put the finishing touches on the machine.
Along with a generator, heating and air conditioning, the command centre also offers a small food-preparation area — with a coffee machine and hot plate — and a boardroom-like meeting area that can be emptied out for an air mattress.
"The old school bus didn't have a lot of room," said Miller. "To have somewhere to get in and warm, dry out, have a nice hot cup of coffee and be comfortable makes it easier to go back out into the woods."
The truck also has room for important operational equipment, like the group's tracking system, which keeps tabs on members with their radios.
It's a definite upgrade from the old rig, which could not run the radio system and the air conditioning at the same time, according to Miller.
Miller said Exploits Search and Rescue had expected to take up to five years to raise the thousands needed for the new truck. It went much quicker.
"It was just over two years from first thought, but the overall project was 14 months from start to finish," he said.
"We were shocked by it, very very pleased with the community support that we received. And still today, feel very lucky that we're able to do that in such a short time frame, and replace the old command centre."