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Mississippi Red Cross Testing Next Generation Emergency Response Vehicle

BILOXI, MISS., FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 2013 — March is Red Cross Month and the South Mississippi Chapter is part of a national test of the next generation of the organization’s emergency response vehicle, with the new vehicle prototype in Biloxi March 12-16, 2013.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our community to be a part of shaping the future of our services and the iconic Red Cross response vehicle,” said Jay Huffstatler, Chapter executive. “Our community will help ensure that this redesigned vehicle will effectively provide help, hope and comfort to people in need after disasters across the country.”

The South Mississippi Chapter is one of two dozen Red Cross chapters across the country in the testing and assessment program for the new vehicles.

The prototypes are the result of a five-year process engaging Red Cross volunteers, staff, partners and the design community to create a vehicle that is more cost efficient and provides a better experience for both Red Crossers and the people we help. Currently, the Red Cross has more than 320 emergency response vehicles in 49 states that are used after disasters like home fires, tornadoes and floods to serve meals, snacks and beverages to families and distribute relief supplies.

“Over the next decade, the Red Cross expects to replace our current fleet of response vehicles while saving millions of dollars by switching to a more effective platform with reduced maintenance costs,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “With the help of communities such as South Mississippi we’ll be able to make sure that the new design meets the needs of the people who turn to us for help after disasters.”

The Red Cross has a long history of providing help and comfort from mobile vehicles. In 1898, Clara Barton used a wagon as an ambulance for her work on the battlefield. During World War II, the Red Cross used clubmobiles to support U.S. servicemen. In 1984, the Red Cross began to standardize the organization's disaster response vehicles around an ambulance design. Prior to the 1984 initiative, the Red Cross used converted bread trucks, station wagons and pickup trucks to deliver meals and snacks after disasters. The prototypes that are being tested today represent the next generation of these historic response vehicles.

MARCH IS RED CROSS MONTH During March, the American Red Cross is asking everyone to help people in need by supporting the lifesaving services it provides. March is Red Cross Month was first proclaimed in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Since that time, every president, including President Obama, has designated March as Red Cross Month. The Red Cross is synonymous with helping people and has been doing so for more than 130 years. For more information, visit

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross Mississippi Region shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters, supports the supply of about 40 percent of the nation’s blood, teaches skills that save lives, provides international humanitarian aid and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @RedCrossMiss.