the all-seeingeyeEmergency Response Vehicles


Parking lot, Wyndham Hotel, Little Rock, Arkansas, August 2007

The Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) is a vital part of the disaster response capability of the Red Cross. Its main role is a mobile feeding unit. The ERV can also be used as a supply delivery vehicle, or as a mobile office-giving client caseworkers a place to interview the folks affected by a disaster that is out of the weather.

Feeding operations take three main forms. The first is known as Search-and-Serve. Immediately following a disaster (after the area is declared safe by the authorities), the ERVs will patrol an assigned area, announcing their presence and serving food to anyone they find. An important part of this phase is collecting information about the extent of damage and where people are working in the area. Mobile Feeding involves assigned routes, usually established using information from the search-and serve period. This is a bit like an ice cream vendor operating within a defined area on an established schedule. Fixed Feeding calls for an ERV to drive to a location with a high concentration of clients and operate a single feeding station. Such an operation might be set up to support fire crews or other first responders, or a large civilian population who are able to come to a central location.

ERVs are also used to deliver food to shelters which lack their own kitchens or cooking staff, as well as operations sites like headquarters facilities, Emergency Operations Centers, and Red Cross Chapters.

The ERV is also designed to carry palletized loads, like heater meals or bottled water. Properly stowed, the ERV can carry two tons of cargo.

An ERV will have a minimum crew of two drivers. When it arrives on an operation a third crew member may be added. Ideally, this third person will be from the local chapter and can act as a guide to the area being served.