By Doug Bardwell – American Red Cross volunteer
Responding to disasters, both locally and nationally, a team of two or more American Red Cross volunteers typically responds in an officially marked vehicle. For larger events, the vehicle of choice will probably be ERV – the Emergency Response Vehicle.
Originally, Clara Barton used a wagon for battlefield rescue missions. As World War I and II occurred, military-style trucks were marked with the large Red Cross symbol and put into service.
Not until 1984 did the Red Cross begin standardization of the fleet, settling on the boxy, ambulance-style vehicle most often associated with disaster relief. Able to drive into affected neighborhoods to feed hundreds after a hurricane or tornado, the box truck design was also able to be loaded with hundreds of mops, pails and disinfectants for flood survivors.
The design served the Red Cross admirably for years, but much of the fleet was more than 10 years old and in 2013, the decision was made to upgrade the fleet with a more modern vehicle type.
Meet ERV – Gen 2
The newest style ERV is sleeker, more maneuverable and will cost less to operate than the last generation of vehicles. And although they are more affordable, the vehicles are still very costly, at about $150,000 each. We are grateful to The Sam J. Frankino Foundation, and Greater Cleveland Board Member Lorraine Dodero, for the generous donation that made the purchase of the new ERV possible.
With modern materials and manufacturing processes, the vehicles are expected to last longer as well. While still providing ample room for supplies, the new ERV can easily be transformed from day-to-day local emergency responses, to hauling supplies for a larger disaster.
Modern two-way radio communications and GPS dispatching systems are just the beginning of the technology installed in the newest generation of response vehicles. Ergonomics are also a large consideration, making it easier for both Red Cross volunteers and those being served alike.
Want to meet ERV in person? Consider joining the team of volunteers known as the Disaster Action Team – who respond to local fires and other disasters. Become a volunteer and help us provide support and hope when all seems lost. Begin your volunteer process here.