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June 03, 2006:
"We'll be able to take the ERV out directly to the people that really need help," said Mike Zabko, CEO for the local Chapter. "Our National HQ has provided the Southern Maryland chapter with a national asset that we can put to good use and increase our capacity to provide the disaster services that the Southern Maryland community has come to expect over the past few disaster filled years," Zabko continued.
Devastated by property loss or encumbered by power outages and water shortages, disaster victims and evacuees face an array of obstacles upon returning to their communities. However, in a hurricane-impacted area such as we experienced less than a two years ago, the Red Cross is on site delivering meals, shovels, rakes, cleaning supplies, gloves, and supporting residents as the area reopens after the disaster has passed or the evacuation mandate has been lifted.
The Southern Maryland Chapter has also been awarded custody of an Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV). This is a 40' fifth wheel trailer capable of providing a self contained communications platform, classroom, or briefing room at a disaster site. It is equipped with state of the art Satellite communications, TV and audio visual equipment, and other radios used by the American Red Cross during a disaster event.
Now that the chapter has this asset, they are in need of volunteers that are willing to take on the responsibility of driving and manning the vehicle for local disasters. The ERV and ECRV are also deployed to surrounding states to support disaster recovery operations when needed.
This is a great opportunity for a retired couple or people that can take off consecutive weeks from their place of employment to support American Red Cross efforts nationwide. All expenses are paid by the Red Cross during these disaster assignments. Also, the local chapter is in need of crews to deploy these vehicles to single family fires and other disasters in the Southern Maryland area. The local chapter will be starting a training class in the next few months to train volunteers to take on this responsibility. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you can contact the Chapter for more information and to sign-up for the required training by calling 301-934-2066 or 1-888-276-2767.
Disaster Action Teams, consisting of volunteers, are on-call around the clock, 365 days a year. Once on-site, members of the team survey and assess the damage and provide for the immediate needs of people displaced by the fire or disaster. These emergency needs may include food, clothing, and temporary housing.
Basic supplies (basic toiletries, blankets, water, and snacks) are kept on the Disaster Response Vehicles. If follow-up beyond the services provided at the scene is required, victims are assigned a volunteer case worker. The case workers help assess additional disaster-caused needs and assist with referrals to other community agencies or human service organizations that can help with the recovery process.
PHOTO: The Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV) ready for operation in Southern Maryland.