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Red Cross DFW Testing Next Generation Emergency Response Vehicle

North Texas — When tornadoes, hurricanes or wildfires tear through communities around the nation, the American Red Cross in North Texas is often tapped to send trained volunteers along with the iconic feeding truck, known as an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV), to help. Now, that truck is set for a nationwide make-over.

The local American Red Cross is part of a national test of the next generation of the emergency response vehicle, with the new vehicle prototype in Dallas on March 28, 2013, and then heading to Tyler, Longview, Wichita Falls and Lubbock.

Major changes being tested include:

  • Serving windows on each side of the vehicle so that families can receive meals and supplies with fewer lines
  • Wi-Fi capability to allow displaced residents to connect to their mobile devices
  • On-board technology displays to highlight important and up-to-date information to displaced families
  • Smaller size allowing the vehicle to navigate narrow streets
  • Greatly increased fuel efficiencies
  • “This is an incredible opportunity for our community to be a part of shaping the future of our services and the historic Red Cross response vehicle,” said T.D. Smyers, regional chief executive officer, American Red Cross North Texas Region. “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.”

    Representatives from FEMA Region 6 in Denton, Texas will join the American Red Cross for the new vehicle inspection.

    “We are proud to team up with our emergency management partner -- the Red Cross – to assess this new feeding truck. It’s a great tool that will help ensure the critical needs of survivors are met in the aftermath of a disaster,” said FEMA Region 6 Administrator Tony Robinson. “This is also a great opportunity to remind people it’s important to be prepared for any type of disaster by having a plan, getting a kit together and staying informed.”

    The Red Cross in North Texas 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 helped. 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.

    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.

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies 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 or join our blog at