Monday, December 10, 2012

Ready, Set, Roll

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the need for trained Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) drivers grew. By the end of November, more than 2,600 American Red Cross workers were supporting shelters, providing food and water at fixed sites, and driving ERVs through neighborhoods to dispense meals and supplies.

Many volunteers—about 90 percent of the Red Cross workforce are volunteers from all over the country—served in November and returned home to fill needs there. Those departures left a void—particularly in the ranks of ERV drivers.

What to do when there aren’t enough ERV drivers? The Red Cross found an instructor among the thousands of Red Cross workers on hand and offered the ERV course to train new teams. There were many takers, so the ERV class – Ready, Set, Roll – was offered more than once.

In the field, ERVs are utilized in three different ways: fixed feeding, mobile feeding, and search and serve. With fixed feeding, ERVs travel to apartment buildings, work sites, community or civic centers, search and rescue sites, emergency services command centers, and even locations where major traffic accidents have occurred. Volunteers then throw open the vehicle’s large side window or back door and hand out whatever supplies are needed at the time.

Mobile feeding is just that—ERVs drive through neighborhoods, stopping at various locations to hand out food. In a search and serve operation, volunteers go door to door, often in high-rise buildings, to distribute food and supplies to those who need them.

With the ERV training in place, a newly trained cadre of ERV crews can say they’re Ready, Set, and can Roll to help those still suffering from the effects of Sandy.

Photos: Syncere Zakee

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