Photo and story by Walt Palmer, Volunteer Contributor
I began life as an ambulance. Well, actually, I began life as a 1996 Ford E450 Heavy Duty Diesel van. I grew up in and around Tulsa, OK, with a long (for an ambulance) career helping get people emergency services in times of crisis.
After years of service as an ambulance (an incredibly tough job), I was really ready for retirement. Found a nice place where they could use my parts for teaching and art. Relaxation at last.
Then, suddenly, the American Red Cross called—they really needed my skills during the 2011 floods and offered me a chance to become an Emergency Response Vehicle (they all call me an ERV), helping them get supplies and food to folks in disaster areas.
I guess you could say I have a “thing” for being helpful during a crisis.
Joining the Red Cross meant a whole new set of skills for me. I lost some weight when they replaced all the emergency medical gear with open space to haul food and supplies. Over the years I’ve been with the Red Cross, I’ve had some updating and refreshing—new paint and new upholstery (just like Red Cross volunteers get updated training and skills).
I’ve logged more miles than I can count. I’ve been on more disasters than I can count. But I find that I am still determined to help “alleviate suffering” and contribute to the mission of the Red Cross in any way I can. I came to Arkansas in 2011 to start this new career, and started working on this latest flood in late April of this year.
Life is good. I can still serve. Thank you, Red Cross.
When not on the road, helping those affected by disaster, ERV-2088 enjoys a well-earned rest at the Red Cross office.