From Kevin McCoy, Emergency Services Volunteer
Most of the time American Red Cross of Central Texas volunteers focus on helping our own community respond to disasters. Many of us are also in the Disaster Services Human Resource system, or DSHR. The DSHR system records the capabilities of volunteers across the nation so that the American Red Cross can scale up nationwide to handle larger emergencies such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods.
Some of these disasters can be so devastating that power and phones are knocked out. Establishing headquarters close to the disaster site has a lot of advantages, but this can only be done if communication and computing resources can be delivered. One resource that helps ensure that crucial communication and other technology lines remain open and functioning during a disaster is the Emergency Communications Response Vehicle.
Recently I traveled to the Greater Houston Area Chapter with fellow Volunteers Fred and Marcia Marks to learn to use and deploy the Emergency Communications Response Vehicle. This could be locally for Central Texas chapter needs, or in a National Level Disaster.
To overcome the effects of a disaster, the vehicle has its own power source, two satellite dishes, numerous radios, wired and wireless routers, laptops, Internet telephones, satellite phones, and patch equipment to join radio systems into networks.
Marcia and Fred Marks with the ECRV
I got to take the class with good friends Fred and Marcia Marks who are also in the Austin Area. I have worked together with them responding to Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Ike, and on the ARC of Central Texas Mass Care Action Team or MCAT. MCATs respond to Shelter, Feeding, and Distribution needs caused mostly by weather and fire based emergencies.
The ECRV mast fully extended
The ECRV satellite dish