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Red Cross Partners with Disaster Airlift Response Team

Volunteer pilots will be able to help get critical items to isolated areas.

Santa Monica, CA – On January 14, 2017, The Red Cross Los Angeles Region partnered with the Santa Monica Airport Association and the Disaster Airlift Response Team for a multi-airport disaster preparedness exercise. More than 30 volunteers assisted on the ground and in the air, flying and distributing critical supplies into the Santa Monica area from Whiteman, Van Nuys, Brackett, Compton and Torrance airports.

In the event of a life-threatening disaster, major roadways can become destroyed, rendered impassible and useless for delivering life-saving blood and supplies to remote areas. That’s why this training was so important, because it focused on delivering critical supplies to the Santa Monica area by air— a fool-proof way of re-stocking the Los Angeles area in the event of a catastrophic disaster. In fact, an exercise of this type is crucial for staff and volunteers to become familiar with mobilizing pilots, aircraft, blood and supplies when the need is greatest and air transportation is the only viable option.

Julie Thomas, the Executive Director of the Red Cross Santa Monica Bay Chapter closely monitored the training and commented that, “When a major earthquake or other catastrophe takes place, highways and major transportation arteries may not be an option to move and transport much needed Red Cross supplies. Volunteer pilots will be able to help get these critical items to isolated areas in a much more effective manner.”

The simulation exercise involved pilots transporting two-ton payloads— a mild preparation since during an actual disaster volunteer pilots would be flying aircraft on 5 life-saving missions per day and easily transporting over 10 tons of supplies!

In all, the Santa Monica Airport Disaster Airlift Response Team can support forty airplanes every day. This means that during an actual disaster, 80,000 pounds of essential supplies and blood can be transported daily into the City of Santa Monica to help people throughout the Los Angeles Region.

The exercise and practical demonstration also functioned as part of the City of Santa Monica’s “All Hazards Mitigation Plan” which lists Santa Monica Airport as “Critical Infrastructure” during the time of an emergency or natural disaster.

More photos by Roxanne Shorbach, Red Cross Volunteer