American Red Cross tests new state-of-the-art response vehicles - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

American Red Cross tests new state-of-the-art response vehicles

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The American Red Cross Alabama Region is testing the next generation of emergency response vehicles in Mobile this week. This is part of a national test of the organization's new vehicles. The prototype is in the Mobile area March 6 through 11, 2013.

"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 Leisle E. Mims, Alabama Gulf Coast Chapter Executive Director. "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 Alabama Gulf Coast Chapter is one of two dozen Red Cross chapters across the country in the testing and assessment program for the new vehicles.

Tours of the prototype vehicle are available to volunteers, board members, and other supporters on Friday March 8, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Red Cross office in Mobile. That's located at 35 North Sage Avenue in midtown Mobile.

The prototypes are the result of a five-year process engaging Red Cross volunteers, staff, and partners. The design community also helped create the vehicle. It's more cost efficient and provides a better experience for both Red Crossers and the people they help. Currently, the Red Cross has more than 320 emergency vehicles in 49 states that are used to disasters like home fires, tornadoes, and floods. The vehicles are used to serve meals, snacks and beverages to families and distribute relief supplies.

"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," said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. "With the help of communities such as Mobile we'll be able to make sure that the new design meets the needs of the people who turn to us for help after disasters."

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. 

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides emotional support to victims of disasters. They supply about 40 percent of the nation's blood, teach skills that save lives, and provide international humanitarian aid. The organization also supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends of volunteers and the generosity of the public to perform its duties. For more information you can visit or join their blog at

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