Ford has just announced four winners of the 2018 Ford Disaster Relief Mobility Challenge. The challenge, run by the company's Ford Fund outreach program, simply asks non-profit organizations across the United States how they would outfit their own rescue or relief vehicles, then provides the winning agencies with a new Transit van specially built to suit their needs. The winners are then selected based on how disaster-prone their areas are, and how well they would be able to utilize the rescue van.
Ford's first winner is Empact Northwest, a response and rescue school that provides services primarily in Washington state. Empact's Transit will come with "communications equipment, emergency lighting, swift water, flood, and other rescue gear." The van can also haul a small boat for use during flood rescues and will double as a mobile first-responder training center when not in urgent use.
Second is Mercy Chefs, a non-profit kitchen that provides healthy meals and clean water to impoverished and displaced people. Mercy Chefs continually services low-income communities and has responded to the earthquakes in Haiti, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, as well as the recent wildfires in California. Its van will be used as a food distribution delivery vehicle for kitchens in Virginia and will allow the organization to serve up to 20,000 people per day.
The third Transit will go to the Second Harvest Food Bank of New Orleans and will serve as a food truck to children, senior citizens, and those affected by disaster. For this purpose, the van is outfitted with a service window, awning, and kitchen equipment. It is also equipped with a two-way radio and satellite phone for easier communication during a crisis situation.
The final winner is The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network of Kansas City, Missouri. This Transit will be used as a mobile communications relay by SATERN and will also be lent out for use by other non-profits in the region.
In the company's release, Ford Fund president Jim Vella had this to say about the Disaster Relief Mobility Challenge: “This challenge combines Ford’s strength as a mobility company with the courage and know-how of experienced disaster response professionals, whose modifications will enhance their ability to get critical supplies to where they’re needed most.” Vella also added, “Natural disasters show nature at its worst, but thankfully, they bring out the best in our first responders, medical personnel, and even our neighbors who pitch in to help when danger is all around them.”