Cherokee Nation marshals recently secured a military grade vehicle to assist in searches, rescues and other emergency situations involving Cherokee citizens. The 15-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle was part of a program donating excess military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies.
The surplus U.S. Department of Defense vehicle, valued at half a million dollars, is not armed and will be used by marshals to reach citizens who are trapped by weather or other conditions. A severe winter storm back in December kept ambulances from reaching Cherokee citizens trapped by icy hills and other treacherous conditions. The Cherokee Nation marshals stepped in, helping eight Cherokee citizens, many wheelchair-bound, to a dialysis treatment center.
“We pursued the surplus military equipment because it will keep Cherokee citizens safer during extreme weather and other emergencies such as the severe cold we have recently faced,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “This $500,000 dollar vehicle came at no cost to the Cherokee Nation, but will allow the Marshal Service to expand its capacity and services. Now we can reach areas of destruction or navigate through downed power lines, trees and debris in roadways to rescue citizens from their homes in the most dire of situations.”
The six-wheel drive diesel engine truck can hold the driver and at least two stretchers or nine people in the back. It will be outfitted with tools to help with extractions, and carry supplies, such as food, water and medicine for tornado or ice storm victims.
Marshals will begin training to operate the MRAP in March. The vehicle is expected to be in active service before the beginning of tornado season in April.
Cherokee Nation marshals also hope to add a smaller version of the MRAP and a medical Humvee to their fleet this year.
“Most people do not realize the Marshal Service has a search and rescue component,” Cherokee Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl said. “When we get all these vehicles in our fleet, we will be able to respond to crisis scenarios better than we ever have.”