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Aroostook Red Cross deploys Emergency Response Vehicle to help with Florence

CARIBOU, Maine — The Caribou Red Cross office deployed it’s Emergency Response Vehicle, or ERV, on Wednesday, Sept. 12, to assist with the onslaught of Hurricane Florence, which was expected to crash into the Carolinas Friday.

Red Cross officials Jim Larson and Kristen Simas prepared the ERV, which headed to Bangor, and then to Portland to be deployed in response to the hurricane.

Larson said Wednesday it had not yet been determined where the ERV will be deployed, adding that a two person team consisting of a driver and navigator will eventually drive from Portland in response to the storm once a determination is made.

While the driver’s job is self-explanatory, the navigator is responsible for making hotel reservations, looking out for gas stations, using arm signals and otherwise working to prevent any unsafe conditions, according to Larson.

The vehicle itself contains a special chassis, Larson said, which is “very much comparable to an ambulance chassis,” but has a different configuration than a standard ambulance.

“We can use [ERVs] for going out and serving food,” he said. “Kitchens will make the food and we can fill up our containers and go out and serve it anywhere. We can also use them for floods and transport disaster relief supplies for cleanup, or send water. It can also help us care for other responders, who need food, water, and care as well.”

Larson said he’s been with Red Cross for just about a year, and serves as the logistics lead for the northern region.

“Without logistics,” he said, “nothing moves.”

Simas is the disaster program manager for northern New England, and manages systems in Penobscot, Piscatiquis, and Aroostook counties, stepping in when other volunteers leave during times of crisis.

“We have seven people who have deployed from the state of Maine,” she said, “and there will be more coming; we have many people on standby.”

Mary Green, community manager for the Red Cross in Aroostook County, said these efforts will allow volunteers to get everything in place before the storm hits.

“We know they’re going to need our help,” she said, “so we’re trying to get services in place before the hurricane strikes. We talk to a lot of people who forget that, in order to respond, we have to prepare. It takes a lot of time, money, and people to prepare. We have to be in place before the disaster strikes.”

Green said the Caribou ERV is sponsored by McCains and features the company logo, adding that she likes to call it “the McCain’s ERV.”

“The McCain’s ERV has been all over the United States,” she said. “We’re really proud to see that. I always like to say it’s a little piece of Aroostook County.”

For those currently living in the affected areas, Larson said the Red Cross will be there to help.

“We are on our way,” he said. “We will do everything we can to make their lives a little easier.”

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