By Robin Blomster, Volunteer
Just how food and supplies expire, the American Red Cross needs to retire its emergency response vehicles every few years.
“Imagine showing up to your work … in a 1972 Datsun,” said Bob Willmon, Disaster Action Team Captain and Logistics Co-Lead for the California Gold Country Region. “That’s about where our existing ERV status in this region is. You need to upgrade once in a while.”
WATCH: Take a look at how critical ERVs are to our lifesaving mission
Through Dec. 31, the California Gold Country is asking donors to help raise $150,000 to purchase a new Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to better serve local residents and people around the country who are affected by disasters large and small.
The next-generation American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle
WATCH: Tour a next-generation ERV
The modern ERV has lots of functional amenities like two rows of shelves, sturdy storage and even a pop-out back window to more easily distribute aid in crisis situations.
“These fires, these emergencies, they almost never happen on a beautiful 70 degree day,” Willmon said. “They’re always rainy, they’re always cold, it’s always in the middle of the night. So to have a vehicle like this to have a platform to do what we do to help people is awesome.”
The ERV is based on the Mercedes Sprinter and drives as easily as a sedan, according to some volunteers. Among many other things, it comes with a CB radio that allows for communication with the command center even when traditional lines are down. It’s also more fuel efficient than previous models, so is a great investment in efficiency and maintenance.
The vehicle can fit three people while driving, and up to five or six when stationary, turning into a quiet space for decompressing.
See how Red Cross volunteers served our 26-county region in 2022
“The energy that goes on in an emergency scene is palatable,” Willmon said. “When you can come in here and close the doors, block out all that kind of stuff, they can sit in here and take a break. And our volunteers … can sit down with them and calm them down.”
Click here to learn more about the ERV and contribute toward our ERV fundraising campaign.