After weeks of testing and training, a 20-ton storm response vehicle is now ready to roll as we move through severe storm season. The Cherokee Nation will use the surplus, six-wheeled armored vehicle to get to people who need help in the 14 Eastern Oklahoma counties the tribe serves.
On days when there isn't the threat of severe weather, you might find the Cherokee Nation's new armored response vehicle at events like career day at Indian Capitol Tech Center.
But on days when tornadoes cause damage, it's ready to hit the road wherever it's needed.
Lieutenant Mike Roach with the Cherokee Marshal Service said, "We're ready. We're ready to go. I hope we don't have to, but if we do, we can get there."
Over the past couple of months, the Cherokee Marshal's Service has put the vehicle to the test, holding about a dozen training sessions with different scenarios, and loaded differently with people and equipment each time.
"We always try to prepare for the worst case scenario, so we see how many people we can get in with how much equipment and how much supplies," Roach said.
Lieutenant Chad McCarter with the Cherokee Marshal Service said he believes it will save lives one day.
Three Marshals now have the proper licenses to drive the vehicle, which the Cherokee Nation got through a federal program that re-purposes surplus military equipment used in Iraq or Afghanistan.
They've been getting practice behind the wheel to see how the unit handles on normal roads, and narrow ones.
"We've done a little training off road with it, just to see how the unit performs," said Roach.
With its puncture resistant tires and the ability to drive through three feet of water, the Cherokee Nation will use the vehicle to reach people or deliver supplies in the aftermath of severe storms to areas that previously took a lot of time to reach.
"I've seen some areas with the downed power lines and trees down," McCarter said. "It was so bad we could hardly get to them."
Roach said, "Something like this, you'll be able to go right where you need to go."
The Cherokee Marshal's Service still has to add lights and emergency radios, but it is ready in case it's needed right now if tornadoes cause damage in our area.