My First Sighting; Red Cross--Disaster Relief Vehicle : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Saw a white ambulance type vehicle with red stripes, and the words Red Cross--Disaster Relief on the back. The vehicle also had what appeared to be a US government plate on the back, and no emergency lights that I could see (can't be to sure because the thing blew past me so fast). Vehicle sighted at 3:30 pm, heading towards Las Vegas, north bound on Arizona HWY 93 just past Kingman AZ.

I've never seen a Red Cross--Disaster Relief vehicle before, and thought I'd mention it.

-- Ocotillo (peeling@out.===), December 20, 1999


Central Florida just took delivery on 26 of these vechicles per TV news. They can feed 625 meals per day out of one truck. Taz

-- Taz (, December 20, 1999.

Ocotillo, you're not likely to see any emergency light bar on top of a Red Cross vehicle. They are not permitted per state highway patrols throughout the country (they decide who gets lightbars and who doesn't).

The license plate on the back is not governmental, they both just share the exempt status- that's what the E on the plate means.

The Red Cross works in cooperation with local governments in times of emergency but do not work FOR governments. When I first started volunteering with the RC, I thought differently. I learned fast, though, that the RC is a non-gov't organization. They operate independantly of gov't strictures. They are funded, however, completely from outside donations and the donation of time and services that volunteers provide.

When you see a RC truck, remember that it's just a food truck staffed by retirees and the like. This isn't spooky gov't stuff. I worry more for the volunteers going out into the thick of it than I do for the people that they serve.

-- A.P. (, December 20, 1999.

did you notice any anchor chains inside?

-- Porky (Porky@in.cellblockD), December 20, 1999.

Ocotillo, That Red Cross truck you saw wasn't driven by me (my chapter's got an OOOOOOLLLLLDDDDD one more likely to be found on the shoulder) but wave next time you see one, it could be me.

The trucks are called ERVs (Emergency Response Vechicles). Most often they're used to transport prepared food from kitchens to feeding sites but sometimes they carry things like cots to shelters and bulk food supplies to the kitchens.

We're volunteers and we aren't allowed to carry "weapons" of any sort. Not even pocket knives or a razor blade. I suppose to other people we look very funny as we're chewing the shrink wrap off palleted supplies but we fail to see the humor.

All in all, we're a harmless bunch of do-gooders. Hate to guess what our average age is. But on the older side. And most of us are planning to do what we can where we can whether y2k is more than a bump in the road or some other disaster hits this country.


-- mousie (, December 20, 1999.

The vehicle I saw looked like a standard ambulance (1-tonner truck), not a 18 wheeler. Even if thing were crammed to the ceiling with MREs I don't think it would hold enough food to feed 625 people.

Porky, I couldn't see inside the vehicle 'cause the windows had a mirror finished...

-- Ocotillo (peeling@out.===), December 21, 1999.

625 meals would be something like, what, fifty boxes of MREs? Why wouldn't that fit?

-- Ron Schwarz (, December 21, 1999.

Ocotillo, 625 meals, yup. It depends on what we're feeding, of course. Sandwiches and snacks, we can feed hundreds of people per load. Hot meals, 100 or more, depending on whether you're getting a plop of everything included casserole or multiple plops of main dish, veg, fruit. We also restock "on the fly" using other ERVs and rental cars. If you're ever around an ERV serving food, take a peek inside. Not only is the ERV packed with food, there are PEOPLE in there trying to get the meals assembled and out the window.

About the mirrored windows, can't say I've ever seen them. Most ERVs have the standard cab windows, some have a high window on the driver's side of the box, some have windows in the back doors, all have windows or shutters on the box behind the passenger. That's the serving window and I hope you never are in the position where we're your lifeline. But it happens. So it is possible that the ERV you saw (yes it looks like an ambulance) had the silvery shutter instead of a glass serving window? (And a kick in the butt to who ever came up with that brillant idea.) Or because it might well be a Southern ERV, the chapter may have silvered the windows. Or some ERVs are retired from the National system and may have been modified by the chapter now possessing it. Or sometimes a vehicle or money gets donated for a vehicle, the chapter may have done it up much like a National ERV but not quite. Hard to say for sure. They've got numbers on them and the chapters' names/locations on them. Most of the numbers are in the 2000 range, some 1000s are supposed to still be on the road, and I believe there are some in the 3000 but those I haven't come across. Most ERVs whether in the National system or just a chapter's vehicle have odd plates on them, tax exempt or some other special sort of plate. Some states make the chapters buy regular plates for the ERVs.

There are a very few (or at least one that I've seen) some ton truck(s) that aren't semis but extended ambulance type bodies. The only one I've seen was used more for administrative supply hauling-the endless tons of paperwork we have to do, tables, chairs, whatever is needed to set up the admin side of a Red Cross disaster operation. Sometimes the Red Cross rents or has donated X-ton trucks that we drive, and also temporary Red Cross id is put on private haulers bringing in supplies, but these trucks aren't what you saw.

No Red Cross vehicle I've ever seen as emergency lights on it. We get into an area by virtue of our Red Cross id on the trucks and on us. We aren't trained for firefighting, water rescue, heavy rescue, or ambulance-level first aid. So we follow the people who do have the training into whatever. Don't need lights for that. Although there actually are a lot of active and retired emergency people who belong to the system.


-- mousie (, December 21, 1999.

Mousie- Here in Cleveland the ERV AND the DAT vans have red and yellow lights on them because that's how Cleve Fire wants it so we can get onto the fireground for local ops. Our ERV is a slightly enlarged Type II (I think) van/ambulance rig with room for the requisite number (amazingly high but I don't remember exactly) Cambro hot/cold units. I THINK we can get a dozen of the big boxes and a half dozen of the drink units locked down and still function inside but it's been a while since I worked days and could respond.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, December 21, 1999.

OH YEAH, here in Ohio, we have State lic plates.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, December 21, 1999.

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