Santa Barbara based Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization, with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by emergencies, is equipping many of California’s first responder agencies to help save lives. After the devastation of the Thomas Fire and Montecito mud & debris flows, the organization recognized the need of local agencies for additional emergency response vehicles and equipment. The organization has since donated life-saving equipment to several Southern California emergency service providers, including Ventura City Fire Department.
“Given the overwhelming scale and tragedies of debris flow and fires in California, Direct Relief was looking to help in anyway it could both in the immediate aftermath and for the future, and while outside our normal course of support, the benefit of being in a position to help our local Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) first responders with a purpose built vehicle was clear,” said Andrew MacCalla, Vice President Direct Relief, Emergency Response.
Direct Relief recently donated both a pickup and a sports utility vehicle to Ventura City Fire Department to help support emergency response efforts in Ventura, and for the greater operational response area of Ventura County. The Ford F-150 4×4 pickup will be used for surf & ocean rescues, as well as supporting wildland fire, flooding, and urban search & rescue operations. The pickup has been outfitted with storage compartments, overhead racks, an air compressor system, Opticom traffic preemption (to change traffic signals during emergency response), a mobile data computer (for GPS location/regional dispatching), dual sirens, LED response & scene lighting, and two-way mobile & portable radios. The Ford Explorer SUV is outfitted as an additional command vehicle. It will be used by the Training Battalion Chief as a secondary mobile incident command post to respond when the primary on-duty Battalion Chief is already committed to another incident, or when an incident is so large that it requires multiple chief officers to be in place to take command of various geographic local areas, as occurred during both the Thomas & Woolsey Fires.
“We appreciate the generous support of Direct Relief in supporting our first responders and our community. This specialized equipment is critical for protecting life during a serious disaster,” said Mayor Matt LaVere.