Louisiana Red Cross Chapters take New ERV for a Spin

An emergency response vehicle prototype, complete with GPS navigation, back-up camera, electrical outlets and Wifi, was briefly in Louisiana for a testing and assessment program designed to get feedback from staff and volunteers.

American Red Cross volunteers and staff across Louisiana took a new prototype emergency response vehicle, or ERV, out for a number of test-drives recently. If first impressions are a good indication, the future will be quieter, more efficient and safer.

“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 Kay W. Wilkins, CEO American Red Cross South Louisiana 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.”

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.

The heart of the American Red Cross is held in the hands of volunteers that care that the response vehicles meet the needs of those they service. These volunteers understand how important it is that response vehicles should be designed to provide warm meals sometimes to thousands following a disaster.

Louisiana volunteers, Thomas Butler and Joyce Bruce note that the narrow vehicle better fits small streets and agree that new American Red Cross response vehicles are needed.

ERVs are often used to provide food and drink to emergency responders and other personnel who are at a disaster scene, Butler said. He noted the prototype ERV has a loading ramp that makes it easier to get the large food carriers on and off the vehicle.

In 1898, Clara Barton used a wagon to help those in need of food, shelter, and medical needs after disasters. As time progressed, the officials of the American Red Cross knew that disasters were not going to end, fueling the need to constantly upgrade the response wagon into a low cost, low maintenance response vehicle designed to assist individuals after any disaster.

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.